Medical malpractice law in New Jersey includes a statute of limitations of two years, modified comparative negligence doctrine, and very little in the way of provision for vicarious liability for hospitals incases of medical malpractice.
Any personal injury action in New Jersey, including a medical malpractice action, must be brought within two years of the date the cause of action accrued. The cause does not accrue as long as a party is reasonably unaware that either he or she has been injured, or that the injury is due to the fault of an identifiable person. If the claimant is under 21 or insane, the time doesn't start until the disability is removed. Wrongful death actions must be brought within two years of the date of death.
|New Jersey State Tort Law|
|Statute of Limitations||Two years from claim accrual or discovery of injury.
|Damage Award Limits||Punitive damages limited to the greater of either $350,000 or 5 times the amount of compensation damages.
|Joint Defendant Liability||If defendant is found to be less than 60% at fault they will be responsible for a share of the damages. Defendants found more than 60% at fault are subject to further rules.
|Expert Witness||Must be a licensed physician in the same field as defendant and be able to administer the same care as that which is in question.
|Attorney Fees||Fees based on a sliding scale: 1/3 of first $500,000, 30% of additional $500,000, 25% of next $500,000, and 20% of next $500,000.
The doctrine of modified comparative negligence applies in New Jersey. This doctrine states that a claimant's action is barred if his negligence is greater than that of all defendants combined. The claimant's recovery is then diminished in proportion to his percentage of negligence.
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Each party's percentage of the combined negligence must be determined, and then any defendant whose negligence is sixty percent or more is jointly and severally liable for the claimant's entire damages. A defendant whose negligence is less than 60 percent is severally liable only and therefore only responsible for the portion of the claimant's total damages corresponding to his or her percentage of the negligence.
The state's courts generally do not hold hospitals liable for the negligent acts of non-employee physicians. However, the doctrine of ostensible or apparent agency applies where it would be natural for a patient to assume that his treating physicians were employees of the hospital.
The plaintiff must file an affidavit by an expert witness stating that there is a reasonable chance that the care, skill, or knowledge exercised in the treatment fell outside acceptable professional standards. This must happen within 60 days of filing the action.
No defendant is liable for any punitive damages in any action for an amount in excess of the greater of five times the liability of that defendant for compensatory damages, or $350,000.
If the amount in controversy is $20,000 or less, New Jersey requires personal injury claims be referred to an arbitrator. The arbitrator's decision is inadmissible and non-binding.
If you feel you've been wrongfully harmed by a medical professional, consult with a medical malpractice lawyer today to discuss your case.