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Faulty Bed Rail is Not Medical Malpractice

In previous blog entries, I’ve discussed MICRA and the caps it places on recovery for medical malpractice cases. In short, two of the restrictions are (1) a malpractice case must be brought within a shorter time limit than regular negligence cases, usually within one year, and (2) pain and suffering awards are capped at $250,000.00.

A recent case, decided by the Second District Court of Appeal in California, Flores v. Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital, 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 139, delineated when, in certain circumstances, MICRA applies.
In Flores, the patient sued the hospital for general negligence and premises liability, alleging that she was injured when a bed rail collapsed, causing her to fall to the floor. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, California, dismissed the action, holding that it was time-barred under the one-year statute of limitations for professional negligence of a health care provider, Code Civ. Proc., § 340.5.

The patient, arguing that this was not a case governed by MICRA, appealed the decision.

The court of appeal concluded that the patient’s action sounded in ordinary negligence; therefore it was governed by the two-year statute applicable to personal injury actions in Code Civ. Proc., § 335.1, and was timely filed.

The Court of Appeals found that the complaint sounded in ordinary negligence because the negligence did not occur in the rendering of professional services.

The alleged negligence was the hospital’s failure to use reasonable care in maintaining its premises and failing to make a reasonable inspection of the equipment and premises and failing to take reasonable precautions to discover and make safe a dangerous condition on the premises.

The Court concluded that a negligently maintained, unsafe condition of a hospital’s premises that causes injury to a patient does not fall under MICRA or within professional negligence under Code Civil Procedure, § 340.5.

It is good to see that the reach of MICRA is not being extended to situations such as the one present in Flores.

If you think you may have a potential medical malpractice claim, or something that falls outside of MICRA, call Heiting & Irwin. We are an experience personal injury firm, specializing in this field since 1976.

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