Our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers protect the rights of injured parties and recover damages for clients who are victims of negligence that arises from care given to patients by a variety of health care providers, including doctors, nurses and hospitals. The law demands that every patient is entitled to care that is standard, and care that falls below the standard is considered to be negligent and should be reviewed by New Jersey Medical Malpractice lawyers.
The failure to provide standard care may arise when the provider fails to do something that is required or affirmatively does something that is prohibited by the standard. In order for a patient to recover monetary damages for sub-standard care, the patient must prove that the negligent care was a substantial factor in causing an injury, which includes a period of pain and suffering, or long term or permanent disability, or even death.
One of the most common forms of medical malpractice in New Jersey is a wrong, delayed, or late diagnosis of a serious medical condition, often a cancer or heart attack or stroke. Another typical malpractice case involves a surgical mishap – for instance, injuring something inside the body that was never supposed to be involved in the operation. Sometimes, something is left inside the patient’s body during surgery, and when this happens, the medical malpractice is obvious.
In order to prove that there was a deviation or departure from standard care, the patient must first establish the existence of a specific standard of care to be applied to the particular circumstance, and next must prove that the standard was violated. The patient, who is called the plaintiff, has the burden under the law to prove, most often by expert testimony, the standard and the departure from the standard. It is only after proving a deviation from the standard that the patient can then attempt to prove that an injury flowed from the proven departure. A New Jersey medical malpractice lawsuit holds healthcare providers accountable for injuries caused by their negligent and careless acts or omission which deviate from the standards of care.
The New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Simonson Goodman Platzer PC have been representing victims of medical malpractice for decades. Paul Simonson has recovered money for his clients in 98% of the cases he has managed, with a total dollar recovery of 200 million dollars. He has consistently been recognized as a “Best Lawyer in America” and as a Super Lawyer in the field of medical malpractice.
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Because each set of medical facts are somewhat unique, it has fallen to the New Jersey courts to decide what is the law that should be applied in medical malpractice lawsuits. Accepting this responsibility, the courts long ago settled on a definition of malpractice to be applied to the great majority of cases, which can be described as follows:
When a physician is charged with negligence in the diagnosis or treatment of a patient’s condition it must appear that he departed from the degree of skill required of him…So, if the doctor has brought the requisite degree of care and skill to the patient, he is not liable simply because of failure to cure or for bad results that may follow.
The highest court in New Jersey, the Supreme Court, has looked approvingly on the principle that every patient should be fully informed about the important risks and benefits that flow from medical treatment. This principle has been called the doctrine of “Informed Consent.” The doctrine is simple – the patient must have all the information necessary to make an informed decision to undergo or forgo treatment, and “it is the doctor’s role to provide the necessary medical facts…”
The law requires expert testimony linking any departure from the standard of care to the patient’s particular injury. For example, if the claim is that during gallbladder surgery the surgeon departed from the accepted standard of care by cutting the bile duct, resulting in a long period of sickness and major reconstructive surgery, the expert must, with reasonable certainty, give the opinion that the cutting of the duct was a substantial factor in causing the resultant problems. In the law, this is called the “but for” standard – but for the cutting of the bile duct, the sickness and reconstructive surgery would not occur.
Over time, the courts began to realize that it might be difficult in some cases for the patient to prove ‘but for,” and that doctors might then escape the results of their negligence. Because of this concern, the courts began to look at an increased risk scenario as an avenue for the patient to recover damages. An illustration of this scenario is a failure to timely diagnose cancer. Suppose the plaintiff develops a breast cancer, a development which surely cannot be lain at the doctor’s doorstep. But further suppose that because of negligence, the cancer went undiagnosed for several months and likely spread, putting the patient’s life in jeopardy. What to do under that circumstance was addressed by the court:
Plaintiff should be permitted to demonstrate…that the seven months delay resulting from defendant’s failure to have made an accurate diagnosis and to have rendered proper treatment increased the risk of recurrence or distant spread…and that such increased risk was a substantial factor in producing the condition from which plaintiff currently suffers.
Patients may recover monetary damages for both physical and emotional damages. Importantly, the courts of New Jersey have recognized that “loss of enjoyment of life,” sometimes called hedonic damages, should be compensated in appropriate cases. The courts have said that the loss of pleasure and enjoyment is a loss that should be compensated, and compensation should flow to those who, because they are in a comatose state, are “…unable to appreciate one’s own restrictions.”
In addition to pain and suffering, emotional distress, and hedonic damages, suits are permitted for damages that occur as the result of “wrongful” death. In order to bring such a suit, an executor or administrator must be appointed by the court.
The general rule applied to adults is that a suit for medical malpractice which involves injuries, rather than death, must be brought within two years of the act of malpractice or within two years after the plaintiff reasonably knows that she has suffered an injury as a result of treatment and knows or has reason to know that the treatment was negligent.
The law was recently amended to deal with injuries sustained at birth. In those cases, the lawsuit must be started “prior to the minor’s 13th birthday.” In those cases that occur prior to a child’s 18th birthday and do not revolve around a birth injury, the child has two years from his/her 18th birthday to commence a lawsuit.
In cases involving death, the suit must be started within two years after the date of death.
In some cases, depending on the entity in question and whether there are “public employees” in question, a notice of claim must be filed within 90 days of the act of negligence.
New Jersey is among a handful of states which permit damages for the negligent failure of a health care provider to identify birth defects in the prenatal period and the consequent failure to provide to the mother the option of terminating the pregnancy. There may be recovery for the emotional distress of the parents and for extraordinary costs of care.
Collectively our partners have well more than one hundred years of experience representing victims of construction accidents.
The New York and New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Simonson Goodman Platzer PC have been representing victims of medical malpractice for decades. Paul Simonson has recovered money for his clients in 98% of the cases he has managed, with a total dollar recovery of 200 million dollars. He has consistently been recognized as a “Best Lawyer in America” and as a Super Lawyer in the field of medical malpractice.
Contact Simonson Goodman Platzer PC to schedule your free consultation. Talk to an attorney for free at 1.800.405.7783.
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