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How late can you sue for a birth injury in California?

On Behalf of | Apr 28, 2020 | Medical Malpractice |

Like every other state, California’s time limits for filing a lawsuit may seem more complicated than they need to be. So, here are some short answers, along with a few details that may also prove useful, interesting, or both.

Injured mothers must act quickly

Mothers who are injured during childbirth due to medical malpractice generally have one year to file a suit.

More strictly speaking, in California, adults over 18 years old have one year to file a medical malpractice suit. But this one-year clock does not start ticking on the day the doctor committed the act of medical malpractice. Instead, it starts on the day the patient knew or reasonably should have known about the act of malpractice. In the case of a birth injury, the two dates are sometimes the same.

Children’s injuries may not be obvious at first

As for any injuries the baby sustained due to medical malpractice during the birthing process, a suit can be filed on their behalf any time before the child’s eighth birthday.

For a little background, children under 18 cannot make legal decisions in California, so statutes of limitations for many injuries (a car crash, for example) start ticking when they turn 18. But when it comes to injuries from medical malpractice, things are different. For children six or older, they have three years after the injury. If they are younger than six, they have until their eighth birthday. So, birth injuries come out to eight years.

For many health care providers, deadlines are much sooner

These deadlines for filing against private entities. Public healthcare entities like county hospitals have drastically shorter deadlines, so you should contact an attorney promptly to help you sort out the statute of limitations that applies to your case.