How do you deal with medical malpractice in New Jersey to claim your rightful compensation? The trouble with medical malpractice is that it can be more complicated and difficult to prove as compared to other personal injury claims. Hence, you need to get in touch with a leading personal injury lawyer in New Jersey if you think that you are a victim of medical malpractice. The right lawyer can help you to navigate the intricacies and prove that it was indeed medical malpractice that led to your current problems.
Proving medical malpractice in New Jersey can be a tough ask. And it is not just limited to New Jersey. Proving medical malpractice in court can be an arduous endeavor in any other state due to the inherent complexities of this case.
A medical malpractice lawsuit can entail medical evidence and legal issues that can soon become quite intricate. To win your claim, you need to have a thorough idea of the procedural rules involved as well as the compensation limits. You need to know about various medical malpractice legal issues in New Jersey, such as the statutory limit and the affidavit of merit, if you want to win your claim.
The Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in New Jersey
Like several other states, New Jersey also has its own statute of limitations in place for filing medical injury claims. In case you don’t have an idea of what that means, you need not worry because the idea is quite straightforward. Statute of limitations, as the name suggests, is the time limit within which you are allowed to file your personal injury claim for medical malpractice. Bear in mind that the statute of limitations can vary between jurisdictions. You have 2 years within which you can file your claim. If you file a lawsuit after the deadline has expired, then the judge will almost certainly not allow your case to proceed. In such a case, the defendants have the right to counter your lawsuit by pointing out that your lawsuit has exceeded the statute of limitations upon which the judge will almost certainly dismiss your case. You will not be able to claim your compensation. Thus, you must be very careful about the statute of limitations if you want your case to go ahead.
Now that you know that the statute of limitations in New Jersey for medical malpractice is 2 years, you should be aware of the starting date. The 2-year time limit begins from the date at which the medical error took place that resulted in your injuries.
Affidavit of Merit
Once you have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, then the defendant has to file a response of their own. After the defendants have responded, you have a time period of 60 days within which you must hand over an affidavit of merit to them.
A licensed medical professional will be filing this affidavit of merit. This means that probably a doctor having the same specialization as the defendant will be involved in filing the affidavit of merit. In this legal procedure, the licensed medical professional will affirm under oath that the practices or knowledge employed by the defendant were outside accepted medical standards. In simple words, in an affidavit of merit, the doctor speaking on your behalf is claiming that the defendant failed to follow accepted medical standards. This will provide you with a valid basis for pressing your medical malpractice lawsuit.
Here are some more vital facets concerning the affidavit of merit.
- If the plaintiff insists, there can be an extension of 60 days for filing the affidavit of merit, in addition to the time frame already permitted. However, this additional timeframe is subject to a justified reason. That is, you must be able to convince the judge why it is necessary to extend the deadline for filing the affidavit of merit. If your reasoning is plausible, then the judge might grant you your request.
- If you are filing medical malpractice claims against more than one medical service providers, then you will need to file a separate affidavit of merit for each such defendant.
- If you are unable to lodge the affidavit of merit within the given time limit, then your medical malpractice claim will almost certainly be dismissed.
The expert medical witness must sign the affidavit of merit under oath. The affidavit of merit needs to have a statement from the expert witness stating that your case is merited and deserves attention. The witness will also need to mention that the treatment was subpar and that it did not fulfill medical standards. Your witness will give details about how the treatment failed to fulfill these standards.
A personal injury lawyer in New Jersey can give you all the details that need to be covered in the affidavit.
Punitive Damages for Medical Malpractice in New Jersey
In several states, there is a limit on how much compensation the defendant can pay if found guilty of medical malpractice. Such is also the case in New Jersey.
In New Jersey, there is at the moment no defined upper limit for the damages that the defendant must pay if medical malpractice is proved against them. However, there is a damage cap for injury cases which is the greater of $350,000 or 5 times the compensatory damages.
However, you must bear in mind that getting punitive damages may not be so easy. You will have to prove that that the defendant had a malicious intent or that they manifested deliberate disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the injured party.
Here is one development that you need to be aware of. A bill was introduced in the New Jersey assembly that calls for an upper limit of $250,000 by way of non-economic damages for medical malpractice. Non-economic damages are compensation for things, such as anxiety, stress, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, suffering and other issues that the injured party is enduring as a direct consequence of medical malpractice. The limits on non-economic damages were defined in other states but not in New Jersey. If this bill is passed, then this will change. So you should follow this development and keep yourself informed.
Legal Aspects of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice cases involve a lot of legal complexities due to which you will need a good personal injury lawyer in New Jersey. You will need to have expert witnesses testifying on your side and address legal issues like causation and standard of care. Seasoned personal injury lawyers can agree that medical malpractice cases can be one of the most formidable personal injury lawsuits.
Medical Malpractice Defined
To have a medical malpractice claim, you need to prove that the medical service that was provided to you was not up to accepted medical standards. Equally importantly, you have to prove that the medical malpractice resulted in harm. Therefore, if there was medical malpractice but no subsequent harm, then you cannot claim damages. So besides medical malpractice, there must also be harm. You will have to prove that the medical malpractice resulted in harm. Such harm can take the shape of pain, suffering, anxiety, monetary damages, loss of enjoyment of life and several other issues. Proving such consequences of medical malpractice is almost never easy. That is why you need a tough personal injury lawyer in New Jersey who can take a strong stand for you in court and argue convincingly on your behalf.
Medical Standard of Care
You will need to understand the meaning of medical standard of care since this is a critical element of all medical malpractice lawsuits. It refers to the quality of care that a prudent, qualified medical professional would provide to you under the same circumstances with similar training, experience and qualifications.
Hence, the key question that needs to be answered is: would another medical professional with the same level of qualifications, training and experience have provided me the same level of care under the same circumstances? If the answer to this question is ‘no’ AND the substandard treatment resulted in harm to you, then you might be entitled to medical malpractice damages. But that’s not all. Knowing the answer to these crucial questions is one thing. But proving them beyond a reasonable doubt in the court of law is quite another. Such a daunting undertaking is a task that can be better done by an experienced personal injury lawyer in New Jersey with a strong record of successful claims.
Establishing the Standard of Care
For almost all medical malpractice lawsuits, you need a medical expert to testify in your favor. This expert will invariably be a doctor with similar training and qualifications. The expert needs to have a specialization in the same field as the doctor that you are suing. The expert witness will help you to establish the standard of care in court. To do that, the expert medical witness must show how the treatment that you received fell short of accepted medical standards and best practices. They will also have to inform the court about how the treatment harmed your health.
Medical Malpractice Examples
Here are some scenarios that can lead to a feasible medical malpractice claim.
- Failing to administer the right level of anesthesia for the patient.
- Failing to correctly monitor an unborn child’s heartbeat during labor.
- Not keeping track of all equipment, instruments and sponges after a surgery.
- Administrating medications to which the patient is allergic which the doctor should have reasonably known in advance.
- Allowing the worsening of bedsores in incapacitated patients by failing to turn them at appropriate time intervals.
- Improper lifting and transport methods that lead to injuries for the patient.
- Failing to correctly diagnose a medical condition following the necessary test.
Medical Malpractice Causes
There can be several causes for which you can launch a medical malpractice lawsuit, as mentioned above. One of the most cases involves lack of informed consent. In such cases, the doctor usually performs a procedure for which you did not express your approval.
The doctor has a duty to explain the risks and benefits of a particular procedure that he or she is recommending so that the patient can make an informed choice. Failing to give full information in this regard might fall under the ambit of medical malpractice. Your personal injury attorney will be able to give you more details on this key aspect.
Personal Injury Lawyer in New Jersey
Just like you would not visit an inexperienced doctor for a vital surgery, you should also not hire anyone besides the very best as your personal injury attorney.
An experienced personal injury attorney can be your staunch and reliable ally in your arduous quest for medical malpractice compensation. Such a lawyer can help you to deftly navigate the intricate labyrinth of legal complexities that can stand in your way.
A good personal injury lawyer in New Jersey will also be fully aware of all loopholes that defendants manipulate to weasel their way out of your claim. The lawyer knows what action to take to deny them such loopholes. A proficient personal injury lawyer is also cognizant of all legal remedies at your disposal that can help you to win your case and claim maximum damages. They can advise you on the best course of action that will maximize your chances of success.
No matter what the nature of your medical case, there is one thing that you must invariably act upon without question. If you feel any sign of discomfort, pain or distress for which your treatment may be possibly responsible, then you should contact a trusted personal injury lawyer right away to discuss your possibilities. A good lawyer will give you a free consultation and advise you on how to proceed with your case. You will thus come to know within a few minutes of talking to your lawyer whether you are entitled to damages or not.
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