Notice of Intent to Sue a Doctor In California

As part of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, attorneys are required to file a notice of intent to sue with health care providers before an action may be commenced against such providers for professional negligence. ( Code Civ. Proc., 364; Woods v. Young (1991) 53 Cal. 3d 315, 320 279 Cal. Rptr. 613, 807 P.2d 455.) Subdivision (a) of Code of Civil Procedure section 364 states: "No action based upon the health care provider's professional negligence may be commenced unless the defendant has been given at least 90 days' prior notice of the intention to commence the action." The failure to give the 90-day notice required by Code of Civil Procedure section 364 does not invalidate any proceeding. If no notice is given, the attorney who fails to comply with the notice requirement may be subject to disciplinary proceedings by the State Bar of California. (Code Civ. Proc., 365.) Subdivision (d) of section 364 states, "If the notice is served within 90 days of the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations, the time for the commencement of the action shall be extended 90 days from the service of the notice." The net effect of these provisions is to toll the statute of limitations in professional medical malpractice cases by 90 days when the notice to sue is given in the last 90 days of the limitation period. (Woods v. Young, supra, 53 Cal. 3d at p. 328; Russell v. Stanford University Hospital (1997) 15 Cal. 4th 783, 785 64 Cal. Rptr. 2d 97, 937 P.2d 640.)