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How much time do I have to file a birth injury lawsuit?

A recent California birth injury lawsuit examined whether a birth injury that occurred in Spain, but was the result of negligent medical advice provided by a California doctor, could be brought in a California court. The court determined it could not, and that the $10 million verdict for the family had been properly dismissed. In this instance, the California based physician okayed the woman’s command sponsored travel to Spain, despite knowing that she was pregnant and was high-risk, having had two prior preterm deliveries and a miscarriage.

Despite the controversial outcome in this matter, the case raises an important issue for the families of children born with birth injuries – i.e. when does a cause of action for a birth injury accrue, in other words, how much time do I have to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit once I discover a birth injury has occurred?

In this instance, although the child was born in Spain, it wasn’t until the family returned to the United States and the child began to develop that the signs and symptoms that the child had cerebral palsy became evident, and the birth injury was diagnosed. In fact, in many situations it takes 2 to 3 years for cerebral palsy to manifest, and even longer to determine the extent of the birth injury.

In California, the time for bringing a birth injury lawsuit depends on a variety factors. First, in general a medical malpractice lawsuit must be brought within three years after the date of injury, or within one year of the discovery of the injury, whichever occurs first. Where medical malpractice involves a minor, a lawsuit needs to be filed within three years of the alleged malpractice, or where the child is under six years old, within 3 years prior to his or her eighth birthday. Finally, if the lawsuit involves a birth injury, the claim has to be filed within six years after the date of birth. However, several other factors may come into play, including the type of facility where the incident occurred (military, federally funded, private, etc.)

As a result, if your child has sustained a birth injury, it is critical that you contact an experienced California birth injury lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights. For more information, please contact our dedicated California birth injury lawyers at Bostwick & Peterson, LLP for an immediate consultation.

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