What can I expect when filing a medical malpractice suit in New Jersey?

There are laws that determine when someone in New Jersey can file a medical malpractice lawsuit and how much they could be awarded in damages.

When bringing a lawsuit against a medical professional or facility in New Jersey, there are three things the plaintiff must be able to prove. First, he or she must have been under the care of the defendant. This establishes a duty of care. Secondly, it must be demonstrated that the defendant stepped outside the bounds of the standard of care. Lastly, the deviation from the standard of care must have caused the plaintiff's injuries or illness.

Several laws shape the way these claims must be brought. The following information is essential for people to know when pursuing compensation for their injuries.

Meeting the deadline

Anyone who has suffered due to a medical professional's negligence should move quickly to initiate a claim. New Jersey has a statute of limitations in place that states that these lawsuits must be brought within two years of the incident or two years from the date the patient knew or should have known about the condition.

There is an additional law that addresses birth-related injuries or those that happen to minors. These cases must be filed before the child turns 13 years old.

Modified comparative negligence

Plaintiffs should expect the defense to use every tool possible to deflect the charges. One of those methods could be to claim that the plaintiff was at least partially responsible for the injury. For example, the defense could assert that the plaintiff did not follow the physician's recommendations.

New Jersey has a modified comparative negligence law in place that states that even if a plaintiff is found to have played a role in the event, he or she may still recover compensation as long as the defendant was still more responsible. However, the plaintiff's award would be decreased by the percentage to which the judge or jury deemed he or she was responsible.

Damages available

A lawsuit citing medical malpractice can recover three types of damages. The first, compensatory, addresses the financial losses someone has experienced. This includes the cost of the care required to treat the condition or the money that was never earned because the patient was unable to work. If the victim suffered a fatal injury, compensatory damages could account for the funeral and burial expenses.

There are also noneconomic damages, which account for the intangible losses someone endures as a result of the wrongdoing. For example, these damages would address the pain and suffering the patient has had.

Lastly, there are punitive damages, though these are only awarded when the defendant was especially reckless or negligent. New Jersey law limits the amount of punitive damages recoverable to the greater of either five times the amount of the compensatory damages awarded or $350,000.

Medical malpractice claims involve extensive research, connecting with experts and providing sound evidence. If you believe you or a loved one suffered injury as a result of medical malpractice, please call Breslin and Breslin, where there is an Registered Nurse Attorney who will speak with you.