Why is it Important?

When a healthcare provider treats a patient in a negligent manner that results in some form of harm, injury, suffering, complication, or even death, medical malpractice may have occurred. In such a case, the injured patient may pursue monetary compensation, known as damages, from the healthcare provider. In many instances the healthcare professional’s employer may be partly, equally or fully liable for the damages. If the patient lost their life, the decedent’s legal heirs or estate may pursue damages.

Medical malpractice may result from an act of negligence by a general practitioner, nurse, physician’s assistant, respiratory therapist, or other medical staff member. Medical malpractice may occur in a doctor’s office, in a hospital, in an emergency room, or in another type of medical setting, such as an outpatient urgent care clinic, a rehabilitation center, a retirement home or a treatment facility. Medical malpractice may occur in a pharmacy if the pharmacist dispenses incorrect medication or the wrong dose, or if the doctor’s prescription causes harm or injury.

Important Aspects of a Medical Malpractice Case

It is essential for the plaintiff to understand there are specific time limitations involved when filing a medical malpractice case. If the case is not filed within the time allotted by the appropriate statute of limitations, the plaintiff forfeits the right to file the lawsuit. Because there are different statutes of limitations, this must be discussed with your medical malpractice attorney, who will be able to review your case and let you know how much time you have to file the lawsuit. It is best to discuss your case at the earliest possible time, because it takes time to investigate and prepare the case.

Medical Standard of Care

A medical doctor or other medical professional must adhere to the standards of care of other similar healthcare professionals in his or her community. This generally means the healthcare provider must have performed their duty in a reasonable and skillful manner.

If the medical professional is a specialist, such as a surgeon, internist, psychiatrist, oncologist or other specialist, they will have been expected to perform their duties at the level of a similarly educated and credentialed professional. In order to prove whether or not the plaintiff was injured, expert testimony will normally be required. If the medical professional performed his or her duty at a level below the accepted standard of care, resulting in injury or harm to the plaintiff, medical malpractice is likely to have occurred. It is important to note even if a medical professional performed at a level lower than the accepted standard of care, unless there was harm to the patient, medical negligence, or medical malpractice, will not have occurred.


California caps non-economic damages at $250,000. Non-economic damages generally refer to those that cannot be specifically quantified. These include pain and suffering, anguish, disfigurement, etc.

Economic damages refers to past, present and future medical expenses, loss of earnings, loss of future earnings, and other specific quantifiable damages.

In cases where the medical professional behaved in an especially egregious manner, or if he or she intentionally harmed the patient, the plaintiff may be able to pursue punitive damages.

Michels & Lew, Los Angeles Medical Malpractice Law Firm

Medical malpractice cases are extremely complicated. If you were injured or harmed by a medical professional and you believe you have a medical malpractice lawsuit, contact the legal and medical professionals at Michels & Lew to discuss your case. Contact Michels & Lew by calling 310-444-1200.