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What is the statute of limitations in California for a patient to file a civil law suit against a medical practicioner?

Richmond, CA |

Once the patient believes there has been medical malpractice, how long does he have to file a civil lawsuit?

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Attorney answers 6


1 year. Though you there are other requirements. For instance you must notify the practitioner of your intention to sue 90 days before you file a lawsuit. Consult with a personal injury attorney in your area immediately to assist you in this matter.


Dear Sir/Madam:

You must bring your action within 1 year from the date of injury. As mentioned earlier, you must also serve a 90 day notice of intent to sue before filing your lawsuit. You 90 day notice must set forth the basis upon why you intend to sue and the damages you seek to recover.

As an additional precautionary measure, make sure you familiarize yourself with California's Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act ( M.I.C.R.A). it places a cap on non-economic damages, i.e., pain and sufferring.

Disclaimer: Nothing set forth herein shall create an attorney-client relationship or constitute legal advice until and unless Mason & Mason, LLP has been retained.


California has a special statute of limitations applicable to med mal cases only. It is Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5. It provides that an adult plaintiff must file the action within one year of the time he discovers, or should have discovered, the injury, and this is subject to an outside limitation of three years from the date of injury. The only exceptions are the rare cases where the plaintiff can prove fraud, intentional concealment, or the presence of a foreign body which has no therapeutic effect that is left inside the patient's body. The statute also contains special provisions for actions brought on behalf of a minor.

C.C.P. 364 purports to require 90 days advance written notice to the defendants of the plaintif's intent to commence the action, but there is no penalty for ignoring this requirement and most experienced med mal lawyers do ignore this law, unless they need to extend the statute of limitations by giving the notice within 90 days of the expiration of the statutory period, in which case the time to file the complaint is extended for 90 days from the date of such notice.


Assuming the doctor or hospital is not a public entity, you have one year from the time you knew or should have suspected the negligence or three years from the manifestation of the injury, whichever occurs first. The statute of limitations can be found at California Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5. Interpreting the statute can be difficult without an attorney.


The statute would be one year for the filing of a Complaint, but if suing doctors, you must also comply with CCP section 364, to give the doctors a "warning" that you're going to sue, and give them a chance (at least 90 days) to accept or reject your claim.

Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as this is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.


The medical malpractice statute in CA is a complex subject on which volumes have been written. Generally, the patient must take some action to preserve his/her rights within one year of the date s/he reasonably suspected that s/he was injured by the conduct of a health care provider. This rule is often enforced strictly, so don't delay. Get your records, x-rays, all things necessary to get a solid expert opinion.

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