February 9, 2024


On December 1, 2023, the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth Appellate District (San Jose), in a 2-1 decision, held the trial court correctly concluded that the MICRA one-year statute of limitations applied to plaintiff’s negligence claims in Gutierrez v. Tostado. The plaintiff was injured when his car was rear-ended by an ambulance which was responding to an emergency and occupied by paramedics who were actively rendering medical care. The court explained that “simply because there is also a general duty owed to the public to drive safely does not negate the fact that the conduct at issue in this case was integral to the provision of medical care. As explained in Flores, even when there is a general duty to the public to maintain safe premises, MICRA applies where equipment is ‘integrally related to [a patient’s] medical diagnosis and treatment.’ Similarly, even though Tostado may owe a duty to the public to drive the ambulance safely when not in use for medical care, the injury to Gutierrez occurred while Tostado, a medical provider, was performing the integral function of transporting a patient by ambulance.”

This is the latest in a line of MICRA decisions that involve injuries to persons who were not actually patients but were injured by the alleged negligence of a health care provider wherein the Courts have held that MICRA and the MICRA statute of limitations applies.

– B. Thomas French