Medical malpractice is a legal course of action that occurs when a hospital, doctor or other health care personnel, through a negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. The negligence may be a result of errors in diagnosis, anesthesia miscalculations, prescription errors, surgical errors, and aftercare.
A patient could file a claim against a doctor if a breach of duty resulted in injury. However, there are strict deadlines within which legal action can be filed.
In Sacramento, a patient must bring forth legal action within three years after the date of the injury or one year after the discovery of the injury.
As per section 340.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure, a patient is required to give the defendant a 90-day notice of the intention to file the suit. The complainant must also include the legal basis of the claim and the type of injuries sustained.
Upon the expiry of the notice period, the case will be brought before the civil division of the Sacramento Superior Court.
For the plaintiff to prove medical negligence before the court, he/she may have to bring in medical experts in the same specialty as the doctor.
However, the doctor may present his/her own experts to argue that the actions taken were entirely in line with the actions any reasonable doctor in the same circumstance would have taken. He may also argue that the complainant was partly to blame for the injury.
Sacramento follows a comparative negligence system where the patient will be entitled to a percentage of the total damages sought. The complainant may decide to seek compensation in the form of both economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages cover things like medical costs and lost wages, while non-economic damages cover things like disfigurement, inconvenience, pain and suffering. In Sacramento, a complainant can seek a maximum of $250,000 in non-economic damages.