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Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer / Blog / Medical Malpractice / California’s Medical Malpractice Statute Of Limitations: Adults V. Children

California’s Medical Malpractice Statute Of Limitations: Adults V. Children


Every US state has a statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit to seek monetary damages in civil court, and there are some specific rules that apply to medical malpractice actions. Though a type of personal injury case, claims alleging negligence by health care providers are subject to a shorter deadline. The California Code of Civil Procedure provides that the statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions varies depending on when the medical error occurred or when the victim discovered the harm.

As with many legal matters, there are multiple exceptions and rules that affect the statute of limitations. The age of the patient who suffered harm is important, since the laws apply differently to minors. Considering the complicated deadlines and how they affect your rights, retaining an Oakland medical malpractice attorney is essential. You might also benefit from a summary on the time restrictions for children versus adults.

Default Statute of Limitations: A statute of limitations operates to bar any lawsuit filed after the designated deadline. The law does not actually prevent a plaintiff from filing a case, but it does act as a defense for the health care provider accused of medical negligence. The basic deadlines for medical malpractice cases are:

  • Three years from the date that the harm from medical malpractice occurred; OR,
  • One year from the date that the patient discovered the injury or should have discovered it through reasonable diligence.

The earlier of these two dates is the statute of limitations for an adult victim of medical malpractice.

Special Deadlines for Child Victims of Med Mal: Medical errors do affect children, but the nature of the injuries and victim’s age makes it appropriate to establish a different statute of limitation. There are two deadlines that parents should note:

  1. The statute of limitations is 3 years after the date the doctor committed the mistake, but only if the child was at least 6 years old at the time.
  2. For children under age 6 who are the victims of medical malpractice, the statute of limitations runs until the child turns 8 years old or 3 years whichever is longer. 

Exceptions to California’s Med Mal Statute of Limitations: With respect to both adult and child patients, there are certain circumstances that “toll” or extend the deadline. The statute of limitations does not start to run if the injuries are the result of leaving a foreign body inside the victim. It is also told if the health care provider engaged in some misconduct separate from the error, such as trying to hide it. 

Consult with an Oakland Medical Malpractice Lawyer About Next Steps

While it is helpful to know the statute of limitations for adults versus children, you can see that there are other variables that affect your deadlines. The important takeaway is that you should not wait to seek your remedies. To learn how our team at Venardi Zurada, LLP assists patients, please contact our firm to speak to a med mal attorney. We can set up a complimentary case review at our offices in Oakland or Walnut Creek, CA.

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