Medical malpractice cases in New Jersey

Victims of medical malpractice are finding it more difficult to file claims due to tort reform efforts across the United States.

Victims of medical malpractice across the United States are finding it increasingly difficult to get the justice and compensation they deserve after suffering injuries or illnesses due to physician errors.

It is worth noting that while the New Jersey civil justice system is fair when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits, changes could be on the way. Supporters are currently attempting to implement these types of changes, known generally as "tort reform," in the Garden State. According to political blog TownHall, Gov. Chris Christie campaigned on the issue when he first ran for his current position in 2009.

Caps save costs, limit patients' rights

Supporters of these caps argue that they deter frivolous lawsuits and help improve the quality of health care, while reducing costs. Doctors often fear the damage a medical malpractice claim could do to their reputation, and they argue that the high costs of malpractice insurance is one reason why health care costs overall are so high.

Attorneys and advocates, on the other hand, say that the low cap on noneconomic damages means that many deserving victims cannot receive the compensation entitled to them after negligence by a physician or other medical professional causes a serious injury or health condition. Medical professionals, they argue, are obligated to deliver the best care and attention to patients possible, and if they fail to do so, they should be held liable for any injuries that result.

Although restrictions on medical malpractice claims are making it hard for patients in some states to move forward with a lawsuit, medical negligence remains a significant issue across the U.S. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association, as cited in a Forbes magazine article, states that medical negligence is the third-leading cause of death nationwide, trailing only cancer and heart disease.

There are also substantial costs to physicians and health care organizations, as there was more than $3 billion paid in malpractice claims in 2012 alone nationwide.

What patients can do

The best way to avoid the issues associated with filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is to be your own advocate when you visit a doctor's office, clinic or hospital. Forbes recommends preparing questions for your physician and doing independent research on any health conditions you may be experiencing to make sure you're getting the proper care and treatment. It's also important to be assertive and not be intimidated by the health care system, which can involve a lot of bureaucracy and confusing jargon.

Although taking these steps may help reduce the likelihood of an error impacting you or a loved one, it's still possible for a medical professional's negligence to cause an unnecessary illness or injury. If this has happened to your family, you may need to seek the guidance of a skilled Hackensack medical malpractice attorney.

Keywords: medical malpractice, New Jersey