Essex County Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice lawsuits involve claims against medical providers, facilities and doctors for negligence in the treatment of patients under their care. These claims can arise in a number of different ways, and the injuries sustained by the victims of medical malpractice can range from minor to catastrophic, including death. Medical malpractice lawsuits are complex litigation matters requiring expert evaluation and opinion throughout the pendency of the case.
Standard of Care
The “standard of care” is an important concept in New Jersey medical malpractice actions. When a patient receives any type of medical treatment from a healthcare provider, they expect the physician or medical professional to observe an established and accepted standard of care that protects the patient from unreasonable harm. This applies in all phases of treatment, from initial consultation through testing, therapy, medical procedures and surgeries, monitoring and follow-up care. When there is a deviation from the requisite standard of care, and that conduct causes harms and losses to the patient, the patient may be able to initiate a medical malpractice claim against the healthcare professional whose negligence caused the injury.
The accepted standard of care is not a uniform doctrine. There are many factors that determine it, such as the age and health of the patient, and the established practices and procedures for a specific ailment or medical issue as recognized by healthcare providers in a certain subspecialty or practice area. This makes the use of expert witnesses absolutely essential in medical malpractice lawsuits. In fact, under the New Jersey Affidavit of Merit statute, expert witnesses must attest to the appearance of a deviation from the accepted standard of care at the outset of a lawsuit. This is a strict requirement in medical malpractice lawsuits that can be fatal to the case if not complied with.
New Jersey Limitations – Time and Money
In New Jersey, injured plaintiffs must generally bring a medical malpractice lawsuit within two (2) years of the date the injury accrues. Failure to file within this two (2) year timeframe will bar the victim from suing for damages. This time limitation is called a statute of limitations. One possible exception to this rule is known as the “discovery rule.” Under the discovery rule, a plaintiff may file suit within two (2) years of the date that the plaintiff first discovered or should have discovered their injury. Another exception to the general rule is that minors who sustain medical malpractice injuries must bring suit within two (2) years of their 18th birthday. Finally, medical malpractice birth injury claims must be filed prior to the injured child reaching the age of 13. Other exceptions to the general rule may apply where the victim was mentally ill or disabled, or the negligent healthcare professional attempted to conceal the malpractice after it occurred. In these cases, the statute of limitations may be extended beyond the general 2-year time limit.
Injured parties may pursue compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. Punitive damages in New Jersey medical malpractice suits are limited to either five times the compensatory damage amount or $350,000, whichever amount is greater.
Common Medical Malpractice Claims
There are a number of different types of NJ medical malpractice claims. These are just some of the common types of claims:
- Surgical Errors/Mistakes
- Negligent Care
- Medication Errors
- Anesthesia Errors
- Failure to Diagnose/Delayed Diagnosis
- Faulty communication
- Negligent prenatal care
- Childbirth Errors
- Nursing Home Errors
If you believe you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence in Essex County or anywhere else in New Jersey, The Reinartz Law Firm can answer your questions and provide guidance. Our experienced medical malpractice lawyers offer free and confidential consultations.