Statutes of limitations are laws that require a time limit on when a plaintiff can bring a case to court. It’s a deadline that states the latest you can file a claim. If you file the lawsuit after that date, you could lose your legal right to a remedy and you will not be able to receive compensation for injuries.
A medical malpractice lawsuit is when a health care provider negligently causes injury upon a patient. Medical malpractice lawsuits include, but are not limited to, misdiagnosis, prescription errors, or surgical negligence. Both statute of limitations and medical malpractice lawsuits have very strict guidelines a plaintiff must meet. That is why it is very important to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer that could assist you in bringing your lawsuit to court.
At Heidari Law, we have personal injury and medical malpractice lawyers equipped with years of experience that could guide you in navigating through the statute of limitations, whether you are in California or Nevada.
Each case has a different statute of limitation, and each state has a different medical malpractice statute of limitation set in place. Regardless of the state, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits does not “start” until you discover (or you should discover) the harm. Each state has different exceptions to the statute as well. That is why it is very important to seek experienced legal help. California and Nevada have their own durational requirements, along with specific filing requirements and exceptions.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice lawsuits are when a healthcare professional fails to perform at the standard of care, and that failure causes injury to the patient. The lawsuit could be brought against any healthcare provider, which includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, chiropractors, laboratories, etc. A patient can sue for damages such as medical bills, lost wages, home health care, pain, and suffering, etc.
Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim in Nevada
In Nevada, the statutes of limitations for medical malpractice claims are somewhat different from other states. At first, an original complaint must be filed. The complaint will state the facts of the case. Other than the complaint, Nevada requires the filer to also submit a sworn affidavit from a medical witness that states the case has merit to be brought to court.
Nevada statutes state that “an action for injury or death against a provider of health care may not be commenced more than 4 years after the date of injury or 2 years after the plaintiff discovers through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered the injury, whichever occurs first.” Nevada Revised Statutes Section 41A.097.
Nevada statute of limitations provides an exception to the 4-year/2-year rule. The clock “stops ticking” and no time limit is placed when the healthcare provider tries to conceal the malpractice. This is when the healthcare provider conceals the malpractice act. In other words, if the healthcare professional is concealing the malpractice that occurred, the lawsuit could be brought to court anytime.
In Nevada, the highest a plaintiff may receive for non-economic loss in a medical malpractice lawsuit is $350,000. Nevada Revised Statutes Section 41A.035. Non-economic damages are compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. Nevada has not specified a cap on economic damages, which include medical bills and lost wages.
Statute of Limitations for a Medical Malpractice Claim in California
California law states that the medical malpractice claim must be brought “within 1 year after the plaintiff discovers, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have discovered, the injury or within 3 years of the date of the injury, whichever comes first.” California Code of Civil Procedure Section 340.5.
This essentially means that the minute you learn about your injury caused by a healthcare professional, you have a year to file your case in California. However, there are certain exceptions below that could lengthen the time you have to file the suit.
- Foreign objects: When a doctor leaves a foreign object in a patient’s body after surgery, it could potentially be discovered years later. When specific cases like this occur, a claim could be filed after the 3 years. However, there is a one-year discovery deadline when evidence is gathered and exchanged between both parties.
- Children: If a child was under 6 years old when the malpractice occurred, the suit must be filed within 3 years or by the child’s 8th birthday, whichever is longer.
- If the child is a minor under 18, parents or legal guardians of the minor must file the lawsuit within 3 years.
- Fraud: Similar to Nevada, when the healthcare professional engages in fraud by trying to intentionally conceal the malpractice, there is no limit as to when the patient can bring the lawsuit. The time limit to file is paused.
- Arbitration agreements (contracts) may modify the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases.
California has a specific requirement that requires the plaintiff to send a notice of intent to file a lawsuit to the healthcare provider within 90 days. This notice includes facts of the claim and the patient’s injuries.
California’s cap on noneconomic damages is $250,000. California does not have a cap on economic damages.
What Happens if You File a Lawsuit After the Statute of Limitations Has Passed?
If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations time limit has passed, the defendant health care worker will ask the court to move to dismiss the case. The court will then grant the dismissal. Once your case is dismissed, you have lost your right to a remedy for the medical injuries you have faced.
A medical malpractice case is not easy, especially if your family has been affected. Contact the personal injury attorneys at Heidari Law Group for a reliable medical malpractice attorney that is experienced in California’s and Nevada’s statute of limitations. We have offices in Los Angeles, Fresno, Sacramento, Irvine, and Las Vegas. Heidari Law Group will be there to assist you. Call for a free case evaluation today.
Disclaimer: This blog is created by Heidari Law Group for educational purposes. This article provides a general understanding of the law. It does not provide specific advice. By using this site and reading through this blog, there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and any member of Heidari Law. Further, due to the constant change of the law, some parts of the information above may no longer be good law.