New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Laws
New Hampshire has enacted state-specific rules and guidelines for filing and prosecuting medical malpractice claims. If a given incident that is the cause of action for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit occurred in the jurisdiction of New Hampshire, unless filed in a federal jurisdiction venue, any medical malpractice claim from this particular cause of action will likely be subject to the variegated New Hampshire state-specific medical malpractice laws.
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Recent Developments in New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Laws
Moreover, in June 2012, New Hampshire also enacted a new statute to encourage early settlement in the medical malpractice claims process. The effect of this New Hampshire medical malpractice law is not yet fully known or understood, but persons who have experienced an injury from medical malpractice in New Hampshire will need to consider these and other recent medical malpractice litigation law developments when filing a medical malpractice in New Hampshire cases.
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What Plaintiffs Must Consider Before Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in New Hampshire
A person who has a medical malpractice claim in New Hampshire should consider the following including:
- Most medical negligence or medical malpractice claims in the state of New Hampshire must be filed within three years of the alleged incident of medical malpractice, or within two years of discovering injuries from the malpractice. These statutes of limitations in New Hampshire medical malpractice cases are fairly universal to most cases, however, without legal counsel determining the specific dates of when these statutes of limitations commence will be essential.
- New Hampshire adheres to a joint and several liability negligence standard, which permits the partial payment of damage claims in the event of contributory negligence or shared fault as a proximate cause by two or more parties, whether defendants or a plaintiff party.
- New Hampshire’s medical malpractice statutes do not cap damages
- However, per medical malpractice laws in New Hampshire, an injured party’s damages may be reduced or denied if he is partially responsible for his injuries
- New Hampshire cases can be heard by an administrative panel for quicker resolution, although once filed, claimants are no longer subject to the statutes of limitation that may rescind the right of a claimant to make a medical malpractice claim under New Hampshire law.
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Important Deadlines Relevant to Filing Medical Malpractice Claims in New Hampshire’s Jurisdiction
An injured party in New Hampshire must file his or her medical malpractice lawsuit within three years of experiencing the injury per the state statutes of limitations on medical malpractice claims. If the lawsuit is filed more than three years after the injury, with certain exceptions it is subject to being dismissed under New Hampshire statute of limitations.
Exceptions and Exemptions to the New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitation
One critical exception to the three-year New Hampshire statute limiting claims cases filing after three years is in the event of a treating physician or medical facility as federally-funded, in which case a federal two-year statute proves applicable. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a New Hampshire medical malpractice case in Sanchez v. United States where the case was filed more than two years, but less than three years after occurrence of the injury even though it was not apparent to the plaintiff that her physicians were federal employees.
Another exception to the New Hampshire statute of limitations is the timeframes of discovery limit. If the medical malpractice injury could not have been discovered within a reasonable time after the malpractice occurred, the deadline for filing a lawsuit will be three years from the date on which the injury was either discovered or could have reasonably been discovered. As these situations illustrate, statute of limitations deadlines are not straightforward. A party that has a potential medical malpractice claim in New Hampshire should consult with an attorney at the earliest possible date to avoid losing the opportunity to recover damages for his or her injuries.
Damage Caps Applicable to New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Cases
Unlike some other states, New Hampshire does not have any cap or limitations on the monetary award that an injured party might receive for medical malpractice injuries. New Hampshire does, however, modified comparative negligence rules to apportion liability for injuries.
Screening and Settlement Considerations under New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Laws
New Hampshire is trying to rein in excessive litigation with pre-litigation screening panels and a new law that encourages settlement. The screening panels potentially provide a quicker administrative resolution of a medical malpractice case and will hear a case if all of the parties agree to this pre-litigation screening mediation panel hearing. The losing party can then take the case to a regular trial, but the panel’s decision will be part of the trial record.
Procedures under New Hampshire’s early settlement law also involve a hearing in front of an administrative panel, but an injured party who pursues an early settlement under the law is required to submit a waiver of his or her right to other legal remedies and a jury trial. This law also includes specific dollar amounts that would be awarded for different levels of injury.
A medical malpractice claim in New Hampshire and in any other state is rarely a simple matter. Persons who believe that they have been injured by a physician’s or treatment facility’s malpractice should consult with legal counsel at the earliest possible date to preserve and protect their potential claims.
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