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What is prior notice in California medical malpractice?

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2023 | Medical Malpractice

When considering filing a lawsuit against health practitioners for neglectful treatment, patients should consider the state in which they are filing the action. There are many things that can vary from state to state, such as the statute of limitations and grounds under which a claim can be filed. In California, those looking to file a medical malpractice claim must adhere to a prior notice regulation. 

Prior notice is a requirement under section 364 of the California Code of Civil Procedure. It requires all plaintiffs to inform defendants a legal action is forthcoming 90 days before it is filed. That means that, in medical malpractice, the person making the claim must provide this notice to the health care practitioner named in the case. A prior notice must include: 

  • Background on legal reasons behind the case, known as the “legal basis” 
  • A summary of the injuries from the alleged negligence 
  • Specifics of losses that the plaintiff will be seeking as restitution  

One of the most common questions plaintiffs have when they learn about the prior notice is “how does this requirement interact with the statute of limitations?” Fortunately, California civil law takes this into consideration. A plaintiff who sends out the notice right before the statute of limitations is up will get a 90-day extension so the claimant still have time to commence the lawsuit.  

The statute of limitations in California is either one year from the time an injury is discovered or three years from the treatment that involved the malpractice, whichever is earliest.  There are exceptions to this, such as incidents of fraud, concealment, or involvement of a young child, as well as the aforementioned 90-day extension for prior notice, if needed. In general, it is advised that people start working on a lawsuit as soon as possible, as waiting too long can make gathering evidence a challenge. For more information, prospective plaintiffs can contact a California medical malpractice attorney.