That last sentence may have made you wonder if you can pursue more than a single medical provider under state malpractice laws for New Jersey, and the answer is yes. However, the “joint and several” standards that appear in most state malpractice laws apply here too. However, state malpractice laws for New Jersey clearly establish that the joint and several rules apply only when someone is determined to be 60% or more responsible. Those beneath that mark are only severally liable (meaning that they can only be pursued for their specific portion of damages).
New Jersey Medical Malpractice Laws
The state malpractice laws for New Jersey also consider the comparative negligence of the claimant too. This law is a bit stricter than some other states and says that a claimant is going to be barred from the action if their negligence exceeds the total combined negligence of the defendants named. If not, then the amount awarded to the claimant is reduced by their recognized percentage of negligence.
The state malpractice laws for New Jersey also feature vicarious liability that says that hospitals are not liable for non-employees, however, “ostensible” rules apply. This is when a patient might naturally assume that a physician or medical provider does work for the hospital and is injured in their care.
Limits and Caps
Before the issue of liability is established, though, the action has to be started in the appropriate amount of time. The state malpractice laws for New Jersey allow two years from the date of the incident that caused the loss or injury, or they use the discovery rule. This establishes that no limit accrues until the injured person might reasonably discover that there is an injury. The state also says that minors and the insane have the extended statute of limitations too.
When a claim can move forward, and liabilities are determined, there is still the need to prove that malpractice was at work. In New Jersey, the claimant has to receive a formal affidavit from a licensed professional demonstrating that the standard of care was not met and that it led to the injury or loss. This is fairly standard in almost all medical malpractice cases, and expert testimony is extremely important in proving your claims.
When you have proven the claims and actions move forward, the state puts a “five times” cap on a number of damages awarded. In other words, the claimant cannot ask for anything over five times the liability of the defendant (or $350k, whichever of the two is largest). The attorney, though, has no cap on what they can ask for their participation in a case.
Is it worth hiring attorneys? Absolutely! Although it may seem obvious to you that your medical providers were negligent and failed to give you or a loved one the appropriate level of care, it may be very challenging to prove this in court or arbitration. A skilled and experienced attorney or law firm is already well aware of the best tactics and can often work with you to avoid a trial and just use arbitration.