All professionals are required to perform their services competently and with the reasonable skill and care of the type whether it be an attorney, doctor, nurse, accountant etcetera. If you suspect that a professional has committed malpractice the first thing that you should do is to contact the Law Office of Sam Walker immediately. Time is of the essence in all malpractice matters, there are Statutes of Limitations which can prevent you from bringing your lawsuit if you wait to long. The time period that you have for filing a malpractice claim will vary depending upon the type of professional involved. If you believe that your attorney has committed malpractice your time limit is one year as set forth by Cal Code Civ Proc § 340.6,
(a) An action against an attorney for a wrongful act or omission, other than for actual fraud, arising in the performance of professional services shall be commenced within one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the facts constituting the wrongful act or omission, or four years from the date of the wrongful act or omission, whichever occurs first. If the plaintiff is required to establish his or her factual innocence for an underlying criminal charge as an element of his or her claim, the action shall be commenced within two years after the plaintiff achieves postconviction exoneration in the form of a final judicial disposition of the criminal case. Except for a claim for which the plaintiff is required to establish his or her factual innocence, in no event shall the time for commencement of legal action exceed four years except that the period shall be tolled during the time that any of the following exist:
(1) The plaintiff has not sustained actual injury.
(2) The attorney continues to represent the plaintiff regarding the specific subject matter in which the alleged wrongful act or omission occurred.
(3) The attorney willfully conceals the facts constituting the wrongful act or omission when such facts are known to the attorney, except that this subdivision shall toll only the four-year limitation.
(4) The plaintiff is under a legal or physical disability which restricts the plaintiff’s ability to commence legal action.
(b) In an action based upon an instrument in writing, the effective date of which depends upon some act or event of the future, the period of limitations provided for by this section shall commence to run upon the occurrence of that act or event.
Cal Code Civ Proc § 340.6, https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/600/611/
If you believe a health care practitioner has committed malpractice there are preliminary steps that must be taken before a lawsuit must be filed in addition to the Statute of Limitations, including a requirement to give the defendant 90-day prior notice of your intent to file a lawsuit, as set forth by Cal Code Civ Proc § 364,
- a)No action based upon the health care provider’s professional negligence may be commenced unless the defendant has been given at least 90 days’ prior notice of the intention to commence the action.
(b) No particular form of notice is required, but it shall notify the defendant of the legal basis of the claim and the type of loss sustained, including with specificity the nature of the injuries suffered.
(c) The notice may be served in the manner prescribed in Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 1010) of Title 14 of Part 2.
(d) If the notice is served within 90 days of the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, the time for the commencement of the action shall be extended 90 days from the service of the notice.
(e) The provisions of this section shall not be applicable with respect to any defendant whose name is unknown to the plaintiff at the time of filing the complaint and who is identified therein by a fictitious name, as provided in Section 474.
Cal Code Civ Proc § 364, https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CCP§ionNum=364
The applicable Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice actions which do not involve fraud, concealment or presence of a foreign body is three years as set forth in Cal Code Civ Proc § 340.5,
In an action for injury or death against a health care provider based upon such person’s alleged professional negligence, the time for the commencement of action shall be three years after the date of injury or one year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury, whichever occurs first. In no event shall the time for commencement of legal action exceed three years unless tolled for any of the following:
(1) upon proof of fraud,
(2) intentional concealment, or
(3) the presence of a foreign body, which has no therapeutic or diagnostic purpose or effect, in the person of the injured person.
Actions by a minor shall be commenced within three years from the date of the alleged wrongful act except that actions by a minor under the full age of six years shall be commenced within three years or prior to his eighth birthday whichever provides a longer period. Such time limitation shall be tolled for minors for any period during which parent or guardian and defendant’s insurer or health care provider have committed fraud or collusion in the failure to bring an action on behalf of the injured minor for professional negligence.
For the purposes of this section:
(1) “Health care provider” means any person licensed or certified pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 500) of the Business and Professions Code, or licensed pursuant to the Osteopathic Initiative Act, or the Chiropractic Initiative Act, or licensed pursuant to Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 1440) of Division 2 of the Health and Safety Code and any clinic, health dispensary, or health facility, licensed pursuant to Division 2 (commencing with Section 1200) of the Health and Safety Code. “Health care provider” includes the legal representatives of a health care provider;
(2) “Professional negligence” means a negligent act or omission to act by a health care provider in the rendering of professional services, which act or omission is the proximate cause of a personal injury or wrongful death, provided that such services are within the scope of services for which the provider is licensed and which are not within any restriction imposed by the licensing agency or licensed hospital.
If there were reasons why you could not have discovered the malpractice within the Statue of Limitations period there may be an exception to the Statute of Limitations Period for malpractice actions under the Delayed Discovery Rule which is the subject of another Blog that can be found on the Law Office of Sam Walker’s Website.