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What is the Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Claim in California?

We put a lot of faith into the hands of doctors and medical providers. Unfortunately, in far too many cases, medical professionals fail to live up to their responsibilities. Every year, tens of thousands of patients in California suffered harm due to medical negligence.

You can hold negligent doctors or hospitals liable through a medical malpractice lawsuit. There are strict deadlines for filing this type of claim. In this post, our San Francisco medical malpractice attorneys provide a guide to the statute of limitations in California.

Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations: Three Years (or One Year of Discovery)

Under California law (Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5), most medical malpractice claims must be filed within one (1) year from the date the patient discovered or should have discovered their injuries. Further, most medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to an upper limit of three (3) years — meaning the claim must be filed within three (3) years of the date of the alleged malpractice, regardless of when discovery occurred.

If you or your loved one was the victim of malpractice, you should take immediate action. The sooner you consult with an experienced medical negligence attorney, the easier it will be to bring a successful claim. You do not want to run into problems from California’s statute of limitations.

Exceptions to California’s Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

There are several narrow, but important exceptions to California’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits. You may have additional time to file a claim if your case fits into any of the following categories:

  1. Young Children: Unfortunately, young children may be the victim of malpractice. If a child was under the age of six (6) when the alleged malpractice occurred, a claim must be filed within three (3) years or by their eighth (8) birthday — whichever is longer.
  2. Foreign Objects Left Behind After Surgery: When doctors unintentionally leave behind foreign objects during a surgery, it can cause serious harm to the patient. However, that harm may occur with a delayed onset. The statute of limitations in these cases is one (1) year after the date of discovery. There is no upper time limit. A claim can still be filed even if three (3) years have already passed. 
  3. Fraud/Concealment by Health Care Provider: If a doctor or health care provider engaged in some form of fraud or misconduct to try to conceal the medical malpractice, the statute of limitations may be tolled. A patient may have additional time to file a lawsuit. 

Speak to Our Bay Area Medical Malpractice Attorneys Today

At Bracamontes & Vlasak, our San Francisco medical malpractice lawyers are aggressive, experienced advocates for victims and their families. If you have questions about the statute of limitations, we are available to help. To get a no cost, no commitment consultation, please contact our law firm right away. We handle medical malpractice claims throughout the Bay Area, including in Oakland, Palo Alto, Mountain View, San Jose and Daly City.