What Courts Consider a “Medical Malpractice” Case May Surprise Some Indiana Plaintiffs

All personal injury cases are subject to a statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations lay out the time frame in which a plaintiff needs to file their case. If a case is filed after the statute of limitations, it will be dismissed by the court as untimely unless an exception applies. Medical malpractice cases in particular are subject to generally shortened and extremely strict statutes of limitations.

Since medical malpractice cases are subject to stricter requirements, parties will often litigate whether a claim is one of medical malpractice or ordinary negligence. This is especially the case when the plaintiff’s case was filed after the relevant statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case but before the statute of limitations for ordinary negligence. A recent case in front of a California appellate court illustrates one plaintiff’s battle to classify his injury case as one of ordinary negligence.

Nava v. Saddleback Memorial Medical Center

Nava was a patient at Saddleback, the defendant medical center. One day during his stay at Saddleback, Nava was being transported in the hospital on a gurney when the gurney tipped over, causing Nava to fall to the ground. Nava suffered several fractures to his clavicle and patella as a result of the fall.

Nava considered his claim to be one of ordinary negligence. Therefore, a few days before the two-year statute of limitations for ordinary negligence cases was to expire, Nava filed a personal injury case against Saddleback. However, Saddleback filed a motion to dismiss the complaint as untimely, arguing that the case was filed past the one-year statute for medical malpractice cases. Thus, the determination of whether Nava’s claim was one of medical malpractice or ordinary negligence became crucial.

The Court’s Decision and Subsequent Appeal

The trial court granted Saddleback’s motion to dismiss the case, agreeing that the case was a medical malpractice case. Nava, not satisfied with the court’s decision, decided to appeal to a higher court.

While the case was waiting to be heard by the appellate court, another similar case was decided by the California Supreme Court. In that case, a plaintiff was injured when the bedrails attached to her bed collapsed, causing her to fall to the ground. The court held that any claim involving the use of medical equipment should be considered a medical malpractice claim if the use of the medical equipment was “related to” the plaintiff’s medical care.

The court determined that Nava’s injury on the gurney was related to his medical care, so his case should be considered one of medical malpractice. As a result, the court applied the one-year statute of limitations, which prevented Nava’s case from proceeding.

Have You Been Injured by a Doctor’s Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of a doctor’s negligence, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through an Indiana medical malpractice lawsuit. In Indiana, the general statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years. However, sometimes exceptions exist that can extend that time period. To learn more about Indiana medical malpractice law, and to discuss your case with a dedicated personal injury attorney, call 888-532-7766 today. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation for you unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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Woman Recovers $1.3 Million from Supermarket After Being Struck by Grocery Cart, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, October 17, 2016

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