I Was Mistreated by A Hospital. Do I Have A Case?
The short answer is no. Medical Malpractice is characterized by a healthcare provider making a mistake—either from negligence or omission—that directly causes harm to a patient.
It is not enough that you are of the opinion that you’ve been poorly treated at a hospital. You have to have specific requirements that qualify the negligent action as an act of malpractice (see more details in the next section).
For example, even if you felt like you weren’t given enough medical attention in the hospital, it is still not enough grounds.
For as long as you were treated with reasonable medical procedures, were diagnosed correctly, and were not injured as a result of the presumed lack of attention, you do not have a Medical Malpractice Case in California.
What Is Considered Medical Malpractice?
While medical malpractice can be considered a form of personal injury, it has specific requirements that differ from a personal injury case’s common characteristics.
For example, while most personal injury claims are filed citing negligence, Medical Malpractice emphasizes that a medical professional’s nature of work centers around the standard of care.
The “standard of care” is set in place to also avoid cases of negligence.
Healthcare professionals are in charge of a patient’s well-being, so it’s only natural that they owe you that. If a reasonable doctor and healthcare professional would not have made the same decisions or errors as the defendant, then they might be at fault.
What Type of Evidence Do I Need to Prove Medical Malpractice?
California Medical Malpractice Claims need the following factors:
You have a clear healthcare provider and patient relationship.
It is important that you have a clear, established relationship with the healthcare provider. You hired them, and they agreed to treat you.
Consider looking at hospital records and previous prescriptions. These should already be enough to prove that a healthcare professional willingly took your case and acted knowing so.
The doctor or the healthcare provider’s negligence caused the injury.
The healthcare provider’s error or negligence should have directly caused your injuries. Examples of these happening could be a misdiagnosis, giving you the wrong medicine, errors in surgery, improper or erroneous anesthesia treatments, failure to warn or disclose risks of certain procedures, etc.
These can easily be proven by medical experts during a trial. If not, keep documentation of the injury if you can—preserve X-ray scans, blood tests, or anything to prove that the procedure or medication has directly affected your health.
Have your California Medical Malpractice Lawyer seek, contact, and request certifications from these experts.
You have provable losses or damages as a result.
Even if you were able to prove negligence, you still have to prove that there were losses as a result of an accident. A non-disfiguring wound or a negligent burn as a result of medical procedures isn’t enough.
Examples of losses that qualify for Medical Malpractice Claims in California include:
Extra medical costs to treat injury caused by negligence
Mental and psychological distress
Loss of future income, reduced or complete loss of earning capacity
Dropping a stack of receipts cannot be enough. These should always be related to the injury caused by the negligent health professional.
For example, if you suffered the loss of mobility in one arm or leg, you have to show all the medications, surgeries, and rehabs you went and will have to go through. You will also have to prove that the loss of mobility greatly reduces your ability to work, and therefore affects your income.
Requirements to File Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
In order to proceed with a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in California, you have to adhere to the following requirements:
You must have a certificate of merit (we'll discuss this in more detail below) without it, we cannot take your case.
File the Complaint within the Deadline. California’s medical malpractice law has a predetermined time frame that will allow you to file a claim. You should file it no later than three years since your injury was sustained.
Expert Testimony. Since medical malpractice requires a high level of expertise to determine whether a healthcare professional strayed or made a mistake, experts are needed to explain the specifics.
Damage Caps. Like most states, California has put a limit on the punitive damages a claimant is allowed to be awarded. This means that you can only sue for punitive damages no greater than 250,000 USD.
NOTE: These damage caps, however, are only applicable to non-economic damages (such as loss of consortium, mental anguish and distress, etc). You can sue for however much you’ve lost economically as a result of the injury.
Medical Malpractice Settlements
As mentioned, California Medical Malpractice settlements can be determined based on the losses sustained due to the injury.
Past Economic Damages Such as:
Future Economic Damage such as:
Costs of medication for continued treatment
Costs of recovery procedures, such as rehab
Loss of income from reduced earning capacity as a result of the injury
“Intangible” damages brought by the injury, such as:
Loss of consortium/relationships
Loss of the ability to guide and care for family
Loss of the enjoyment of life
What is the Certificate of Merit?
A “Certificate of Merit” is a written declaration authored by a medical expert under oath.
This certification details AND supports your claim of medical malpractice and will sometimes be required to state specific details, such as the duty of care, the negligent cause, and expert insight of the incident.
A California Medical Malpractice Lawyer will be able to determine the specific declarations that are needed to be addressed in the certificate. If you do not have a certificate of merit, our attorneys will not be able to assist you.