In the state of California, there is a statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases. This statute of limitations sets a time limit on any person’s right to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for harm or injuries. The basis of a statute of limitations is essentially fairness in that a medical professional knows that a patient cannot come forward with a lawsuit after an unreasonable amount of time.

In California, a victim of medical malpractice has one year from the discovery of the injury or within three years of the occurrence of the injury, whichever comes first. In other words, if you were injured by a doctor or other medical professional and were immediately aware of that injury, you would have one year to file a lawsuit. If you didn’t discover that you were harmed or injured until four years after a procedure, the three-year statute of limitations would have come and gone, and you would not be able to file suit.

There is an exception to the overall three-year deadline. This is in cases when an object is left in the body during a surgery. If an instrument, gauze or other tool used in a surgery is left inside a patient’s body, there is no statute of limitations. That said, the suit must be filed within a year of the discovery of the foreign object.

California is unique in that the state requires a plaintiff to notify a medical professional of their intent to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Any person who is filing a lawsuit must provide at least 90 days’ notice to the named defendant.