Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion broadly interpreting what is considered a medical malpractice claim under the state’s statutory framework for cases involving medical negligence. In the case, Nava v. Saddleback Memorial Medical Center, the court determined that the plaintiff’s injury that occurred while he was being transported in the hospital on a gurney should have been brought within the one-year statute of limitations applicable to all medical malpractice cases.
Nava was a patient at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center. One day during his stay, he was being transferred from one part of the hospital to another on a gurney when the gurney tipped and Nava fell to the ground. As a result of the fall, Nava suffered fractures to his clavicle and his knee cap.
Nava filed a personal injury lawsuit against the hospital. The complaint was filed more than one year but less than two years after his injury. This is important because the applicable statute of limitations for negligence claims is two years; however, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is one year.
Saddleback claimed that the lawsuit consisted of a medical malpractice claim and that the one-year statute of limitations should apply. Nava, on the other hand, urged the court to consider his claim as one of ordinary negligence, for which the two-year statute of limitations would apply.
The Court’s Decision and Nava’s Appeal
The trial court determined that Saddleback’s interpretation of the claim was correct, and it applied the one-year statute of limitations applicable to all medical malpractice cases. As a result, Nava’s claim was time-barred, and the case was dismissed. Nava appealed.
While the case was pending on appeal, the California Supreme Court decided a case with similar facts in which the court determined that claims arising out of the use of medical equipment should be considered medical malpractice claims in many situations. In that case, the plaintiff was injured when a bedrail collapsed, causing the plaintiff to fall to the floor. The relevant question, the court held, was whether the use of the medical equipment was “related to” the plaintiff’s medical care. If it was, the case should be considered a medical malpractice case. Applying this new line of reasoning, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision to apply the one-year statute of limitations.
Have You Been a Victim of Negligent Medical Care?
If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of what you believe to be medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As you can see from the above discussion, the timing of a case can be crucial, and waiting too long may result in your losing your right to recovery. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the South Florida medical malpractice law firm of Cohn & Smith have decades of experience enforcing the rights of injured clients, and we are well-versed in all applicable time frames and procedural requirements. Call 954-431-8100 today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.
Related Blog Posts:
Court Applies “Discovery Rule” in Medical Malpractice Case, Allowing Plaintiff’s Late Filing, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, October 17, 2016.
Respondeat Superior: Holding an Employer Responsible for a Negligent Employee’s Actions, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, October 12, 2016.