Medical Malpractice Law in San Diego County
Doctors, nurses, chiropractors, pharmacists, and all other medical professionals who are practicing in the state of California have a duty to treat their patients with the highest standard of care. As such, patients trust their doctors to diagnose their illnesses, treat them when they’re sick or injured, and perform surgeries to save or improve their lives. Sadly, however, medical professionals do not always meet expectations, and sometimes, a doctor’s error can be bad enough to cause a patient harm. When this occurs, the patient has the right to bring forth a medical malpractice lawsuit for damages.
At the law offices of Garmo & Garmo, LLP, our legal team is comprised of experienced professionals who care about our clients. If you are harmed by a medical professional, we are here to help you take action to recover compensation for your losses.
Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, or other medical professional, neglects their duty to a patient. When this failure occurs, it is called a breach in the standard of care owed to the patient.
There are many types of medical malpractice, including, but not limited to:
- Delayed diagnosis or failure to diagnose;
- Medication administration errors where the wrong medication, or medication in incorrect amounts, is given to a patient;
- Surgical errors, including leaving an object in the patient, operating on the wrong body part, etc.;
- Errors in testing;
- Failure to refer a patient to a specialist; and
- Errors in treatment.
These errors can have serious consequences for a patient, including the progression of a disease or health complication, and in the most severe of cases, death.
Elements of a California Medical Malpractice Claim
In order to bring forth a successful medical malpractice claim in California, you will need to prove four elements. These elements are:
- The existence of a duty of care. So long as you were being treated by the medical professional, a duty of care is implied.
- The breach of the duty of care. A plaintiff in a medical malpractice suit must prove that the person against whom they are filing suit breached the duty of care owed to the plaintiff. This is done by proving malpractice, or that the medical professional acted outside of the medical standard of care. The medical standard of care refers to the reasonable actions that another medical professional in the same situation would or would not do.
- In addition to proving that the medical professional committed an act of malpractice, you must also establish that the malpractice was the direct cause of your injuries. If causation cannot be proven, you will not have a case.
- Finally, you will need to prove all of the damages that you are claiming. For example, if the act of medical malpractice resulted in the need for you to undergo surgery, you will need to produce proof of the surgery, medical expenses, and pain and suffering you have experienced.
Damages Recoverable in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
You can seek compensation for damages that you have suffered as a result of medical malpractice in California. While the amount of compensation that you can receive is unlimited for economic damages (out-of-pocket payments, cost of future care, lost income), there is a maximum limit on noneconomic damages (pain and suffering).
In California, the law limits the amount of noneconomic damages recoverable in a medical malpractice lawsuit to $250,000.
Time Limits for Bringing Forth a Medical Malpractice Claim
Not only is there a limit on the amount of noneconomic damages that you can recover in a California medical malpractice claim, but there is also a limit on the amount of time that you have to act after the incident of malpractice occurs. As found in California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5, an action for a medical malpractice suit must be brought:
- Within three years of the date of injury; or
- Within one year from when the plaintiff discovers (or should have discovered) the injury.
The statute of limitations may be extended past three years in the event that there is proof of fraud, intentional concealment, or the presence of a foreign body (i.e. a surgeon leaves an item within a patient, which is discovered years later).
Hiring a California Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, it is important that you take action. Not only could filing a lawsuit allow you to recover the compensation that you desperately need, but holding a healthcare provider responsible for their negligent actions can also protect other patients too.
While you may know that filing a lawsuit is the best thing to do, and understand that hiring an attorney is key, you may have questions about how much a lawyer costs and what the whole process will entail. While filing a lawsuit is certainly an emotional and time-intensive process, you can take comfort in the fact that when you hire the legal team at Garmo & Garmo, LLP, we will never charge you unless your case is won. We work on a contingency fee basis that is consistent with state of California laws, and will never ask for upfront fees or hourly payments.
Some words of caution: a bed medical result is not necessarily medical malpractice. Even a mistake may not be medical malpractice. In order for a claim to be successful, we have to prove that the doctor did something extremely negligent, and in way that most doctors would not do. Because of this, it is very important that you select a firm that understands these differences.
Contact Our Law Offices Today
When you are injured by someone you trusted to improve your life, not detract from it, you deserve to be compensated. At the law offices of Garmo & Garmo, LLP, our experienced California medical malpractice attorneys are here to fight for you. We have been successfully serving clients throughout the state over 20 years, and will always take the time necessary to fully understand and investigate your case, and develop a strategy that is unique to your situation. What’s more, we always return calls within 24 hours, and will always be willing to answer any questions you have.
To schedule a free consultation with our experienced California medical malpractice attorneys, contact us today. We are available to talk by phone or online.