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The process of filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit in California can be confusing, but it can also lead to winning justice for your child. If you believe that medical malpractice caused or contributed to your child’s disabilities, you have a right to seek justice and to attempt to recover damages from those responsible.
Filing a lawsuit in the state involves following specific laws that regulate each step. You can benefit from the guidance and knowledge of a lawyer experienced in helping people with disabilities and medical malpractice cases.
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To make the process run as smoothly as possible and to ensure the best possible outcome, finding the right lawyer should be your first step.
Do I Need a Lawyer for the Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Filing Process?
Yes, the first step you need to take in this process is to find a good lawyer. Technically you can file a lawsuit without a lawyer, but the odds of a successful outcome are much lower without one. Here are the main reasons to get a good lawyer now:
- A California cerebral palsy lawyer knows the specific laws in the state as they relate to your case and situation.
- The right lawyer has experience working with families like yours and is compassionate.
- With the best lawyer by your side, you have a better chance of recovering damages to cover medical expenses and ongoing care for your child.
- Laws regarding medical malpractice generally favor defendants, so winning a case is difficult without expertise and experience.
- The right lawyer will make all these critical decisions easier so that you can get through the process of filing with less stress.
Find a lawyer to take your case and begin the process by searching for an individual or a firm specializing in medical malpractice and birth injuries. Make sure the lawyer has specific experience and wins for similar clients.
What Kinds of Lawsuits Will do I need to File in California?
If you have a child with cerebral palsy and disabilities, there are two main types of lawsuits you may need to consider filing:
- A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit. The purpose of a medical malpractice lawsuit is to hold responsible medical professionals who caused or contributed to patient harm by failing to provide an adequate standard of care. You would want to file this lawsuit if you believe your child would not have been disabled if it weren’t for mistakes made by doctors, nurses, or hospitals involved in your care.
- A Disability Rights or Discrimination Complaint. Both state and federal laws protect the disabled from discrimination and ensure access and opportunities in housing, education, and public spaces.  If your child is being denied these rights or is discriminated against in some way, you may file a complaint and, ultimately, a lawsuit if the complaint does not get resolved.
The Process of Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in California
With the right lawyer guiding you, this entire process will be much easier. But it still helps to understand the state laws and how they govern the steps you’ll take to make your case.
Begin within the Statute of Limitations
California law places a time limit on when you can file a malpractice lawsuit. You have one year from when you discovered negligence occurred or three years from the actual incident.  It’s essential to understand this law first and foremost, so you don’t miss the deadline.
File a Complaint
The first step in the process is to file a complaint. This is a legal document your lawyer will create that details the incident and how it contributed to your child’s disabilities. It names the defendants and notifies them of the suit you are bringing against them.
Most states also require you to submit a signed statement from a medical expert at this point in the process, but California has no such requirement.
As you wait for the defendants to respond to your complaint, your lawyer will begin to determine what you are owed in damages. California caps non-economic damages at just $250,000, but you can seek any amount for actual economic damages. You will need to provide your lawyer with all your related medical records and incidental expenses to help decide how much to seek.
Investigation and Settlement Negotiation
Assuming the defendants respond, both sides will investigate the incident to find evidence that there was or was not negligent action. Your lawyer will seek to negotiate a settlement with the defendants. It’s typical for a malpractice lawsuit to end with a settlement because it is less costly.
Go to Trial if Necessary
In the unlikely case that the defendants won’t settle, your lawsuit will go to court. You will have the chance to make your case in front of a jury. Your lawyer will present evidence and testimony from expert witnesses. The jury will decide if negligence occurred and harmed your child, and if so, the amount of damages to be awarded.
The Process of Filing a Discrimination Complaint
For a case of discrimination or denial of your child’s rights, the process is different. Usually, the first thing your lawyer will do is file a complaint with the right government agency. This may be the California Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section or the U.S. Department of Justice. Your lawyer will know which law and agencies are involved in your child’s case.
Only if you cannot get your issue resolved through the formal process of filing a complaint, investigating, and resolution negotiations, consider filing a lawsuit. A lawsuit can help you get the justice your child deserves, restore services or access, and even recover damages.
The process of filing a lawsuit in California can be challenging if you try to go it alone. You’ll need to find the best lawyer to take your case and then file, investigate, present evidence, go through settlement negotiation, and possibly go to court to get a resolution. The efforts are worthwhile to help get justice and compensation for your child with cerebral palsy.
- What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? (n.d.). ADA National Network | Information, Guidance and Training on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Retrieved from: https://adata.org/learn-about-ada
- Medical liability/Malpractice statutes of limitation. (2014, March 20). Legislative News, Studies and Analysis | National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-malpractice-statutes-of-limitation.aspx