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How long do I have to file a lawsuit for surgical errors?

As outlined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, organ transplantations involve the process of surgically transferring a donated organ into a patient who is frequently suffering from end-stage organ failure. The waiting list for such procedures can be very long and the opportunity to receive an organ is highly anticipated for lengthy periods of time.

While those on the waiting list are often ecstatic at the new chance at life, the costs can be quite extensive. Transplantation involves various costs including laboratory tests, surgery, in-hospital stays, rehabilitation and more. From numbers recorded in 2008, the average transplantation costs ranged from $259,000 for a kidney to over $1,200,000 for heart-lung transplants.

The transplantation process does not stop with surgery, however. Ongoing care is an expensive endeavor as well, consisting of necessary rehabilitation and multiple medications to prevent organ rejection. Many times, with proper follow-up care, patients are given a second chance at the gift of life. In some cases, however, the outcome is not so positive.

Though nobody wishes to think of the possibility of an unfortunate event, surgical errors do sometimes occur. An improper organ transplant or surgeon negligence can have a devastating impact on a receiving patient. While medical malpractice lawsuits are in place to afford protection to patients in such situations, claims must be filed within a specific timespan in order to be valid. This statute of limitations is listed in the California Code of Civil Procedure, showing the deadline for filing a malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice claims against a healthcare provider must be filed within one to three years. Either the suit must be filed one year from the date the injured party knows about, or should have been aware of, the injury, or three years from when the injury actually happened - whichever date comes first is the date plaintiffs must abide by.

Waiting for medical procedures can be a grueling process, especially when the cost is so high. Receiving poor care and enduring complications after a much anticipated surgery often takes an extreme emotional toll in addition to bringing financial hardship. Medical malpractice claims can help patients receive compensation for harm done by a careless surgeon in order to ease some of the financial strain so the patient can focus on starting the healing process. Beginning these claims within a timely manner is crucial to ensure the patient is able to recover the compensation he or she deserves.

Source: California Courts, "Statute of Limitations," accessed Dec. 1, 2014

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