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cancer misdiagnosisMisdiagnosis, especially concerning life-threatening conditions like cancer, can have severe implications. In California, as with many other jurisdictions, medical malpractice claims arise from negligent conduct, including failure to diagnose or misdiagnosis. If you suspect that your cancer or your loved one’s cancer was misdiagnosed, it’s crucial to recognize the signs and be aware of your legal rights. And by speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney, you can more accurately assess whether you’re in a strong position to file a malpractice insurance claim or a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Symptoms Don’t Align With The Diagnosis

One of the most significant indications of a possible misdiagnosis is when the symptoms your loved one experiences don’t seem to align with the type of cancer they’ve been diagnosed with. For instance, if they’re diagnosed with lung cancer but don’t have any respiratory issues, it might be a sign of misdiagnosis.

Second Opinion Differs

If you seek a second opinion from another oncologist and their diagnosis is markedly different from the initial one, this might indicate a potential misdiagnosis. It’s always a good idea to get a second or even third opinion when it comes to severe illnesses like cancer.

Tests Were Not Conducted Or Interpreted Incorrectly

The right tests play a critical role in diagnosing cancer. If your loved one’s medical practitioner didn’t order the appropriate screenings or tests or if those tests were not interpreted correctly, it can lead to a misdiagnosis. In some instances, negligence in reading the results of these tests can be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Late Stage Diagnosis

If your loved one’s cancer is diagnosed at a late stage despite them visiting their doctor multiple times with symptoms, this could be an indication that earlier opportunities to diagnose were missed.

Treatment Ineffectiveness

If the treatment prescribed doesn’t appear to have any effect, or if the condition worsens, it might be because the diagnosis was incorrect. Proper cancer treatment is usually tailored to the specific type of cancer, so incorrect treatment can be a sign of misdiagnosis.

Symptoms Improved With A Different Treatment

If symptoms or the overall health condition improved after switching treatments, it might indicate that the initial treatment (based on the misdiagnosis) was inappropriate.

California Medical Malpractice Laws To Know

In California, if you suspect that a misdiagnosis took place, it’s essential to be familiar with specific laws:

Statute Of Limitations

According to the California Code of Civil Procedure § 340.5, you have either one year from the date upon which you discover (or reasonably should have discovered) your harm or three years from the date upon which the harm occurred to file a medical malpractice claim.

Expert Witness Standards

Under California law, expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases must have a substantial amount of professional or academic experience in the same specialty as the defendant.


In 2022, California’s Governor Gavin Newsom approved AB 35, a legislation designed to update the methods of awarding damages in medical malpractice cases. The legislation introduced major amendments to the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA). Specifically, the new legislation raised the existing $250,000.00 cap on non-economic damages. For cases involving wrongful death, the cap was set at $500,000.00 and will grow by $50,000.00 annually. For other medical malpractice cases, the initial cap was $350,000.00, increasing yearly by $40,000.00, until it reaches $750,000.00.

Seeking Guidance From Medical Malpractice Lawyers

A cancer misdiagnosis can have devastating consequences. Recognizing the signs of potential misdiagnosis and being informed about your rights under California law can help you and your loved ones pursue justice. If you believe your loved one was a victim of medical malpractice, it’s crucial to consult with a personal injury attorney experienced in this field.

At The Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates, PC, our attorneys aim to turn our clients’ pain into justice. Don’t navigate this challenging time alone; our skilled medical malpractice attorneys are ready to assist you.

With multiple offices in Irvine, Los Angeles, El Segundo, San Diego, and Riverside, our personal injury attorneys represent injured victims across Southern California. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our attorneys, please call 949-727-9300.