New Jersey is One of the Best States For Patient Medical Malpractice Outcomes
A New Jersey medical malpractice attorney can provide guidance, support, and legal counsel as you seek to hold a health care professional responsible for negligence or medical errors.
A study in the Journal of Patient Safety estimates that hospital errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer, with approximately 440,000 deaths each year. If a physician, medical facility, or other medical provided caused your injury, you might receive compensation for your damages by filing a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice laws in New Jersey can be complicated and difficult to understand, and the requirements for holding a medical provider liable for malpractice can seem overwhelming. However, unlike many other states, there are no caps on certain kinds of damages awarded.
Common Preventable Medical Errors in NJ
A New Jersey medical malpractice attorney can provide guidance, support, and legal counsel as you seek to hold a health care professional responsible for negligence or medical errors. Of all of the hundreds of thousands of medical mistakes that occur each year in hospitals and other medical settings, the most common preventable medical errors that may lead to medical malpractice claims include:
- Misdiagnosis. Failure to diagnose an illness is a common medical mistake. The most misdiagnosed conditions are heart attack and cancer. The failure to diagnose life-threatening conditions can have devastating consequences and cause catastrophic injuries. A proper diagnosis made promptly could be the difference between life and death. When your doctor or medical specialist fails to diagnose your condition, he or she delays the treatment you need to get well and could adversely affect your prognosis.
- Surgical errors. Surgical errors are another common medical error, often causing irreparable damage. Whether the surgical team left tools or sponges inside the body during surgery, the wrong side or site was operated on or even performed on the wrong patient.
- Failure to treat. This error occurs when the doctors correctly diagnose a condition but fail to treat it according to the acceptable standard of care. Discharging a patient too soon, or the lack of follow-up care, can make conditions worse and lead to injury.
- Anesthesia errors. Proper use of anesthesia is complicated: too little, and the patient feels every move the doctor makes, too much, and the patient could slip into a coma. Errors with general anesthesia can lead to permanent tingling or numbness in extremities after treatment or a type of arrhythmia during a treatment called tachycardia, where your heart beats at an accelerated and/or abnormal rate.
- Emergency room errors. Emergency rooms are chaotic places, and the medical personnel and staff who work in them are often fatigued and overworked. Patients whose conditions were missed or exacerbated because of an emergency room mistake could have their health severely jeopardized.
- Birth injuries. A significant portion of medical malpractice claims is against OBGYNs for childbirth-related medical mistakes. Conditions such as shoulder dystocia or other nerve damage, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and cephalohematoma are common birth injuries that medical errors could have caused.
- Prescription drug errors. From illegible prescriptions to incorrect dosages to pharmacy errors, medication mistakes are among the most common – and most dangerous – types of medical malpractice cases. Doctors make errors in prescribing the wrong medication, incorrectly dosing, and administration of prescription drugs. Other drug errors include prescribing drugs that can cause harm to the patient when they interact with one another.
- Healthcare providers under the influence. Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem that deadly, extends to the very people we trust with our lives. Abusing prescription drugs or taking illicit ones while at work can hinder judgment and decision-making skills. You want a guarantee that the health workers helping you are at their best.
Why Do Malpractice Claimants Benefit More in New Jersey?
There are two distinct types of damages in a New Jersey medical malpractice case that may be awarded: compensatory damages and punitive damages. Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the victim for the loss associated with their injuries. There are two forms of compensatory damages: economic and non-economic. Some of the elements that may factor into a compensatory damages award include:
- Medical expenses, including past medical bills and cost of future care
- Loss of income, including wages lost during medical treatment/hospitalization and future loss of income if the victim is no longer able to work or has reduced earning potential
- Pain and suffering, including mental and emotional suffering resulting from the victim’s injuries
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship and/or loss of family income in the case of wrongful death
There is no cap on compensatory damages in New Jersey medical malpractice cases. In other words, New Jersey law does not limit the amount a medical negligence victim can receive for their injuries.
What Are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages can be sought once a compensatory case has been won in favor of the patient, but there is a cap. In a medical malpractice lawsuit, the court can award up to $350,000 or five times the number of compensatory damages, whichever amount is greater.
When determining if punitive damages should be awarded, the court will examine all relevant evidence, including but not limited to:
- The likelihood at the time that the defendant knew their conduct would cause serious harm.
- The defendant’s awareness of reckless disregard for the harm that their conduct may cause
- The defendant’s conduct after learning that their initial action would likely cause harm; and
- The duration of the conduct of any concealment of it by the defendant.
Consult with an Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney in Mercer and Middlesex County, NJ
We understand a medical injury has effects far beyond your finances. The results of medical malpractice can extend to every area of your life, which is why we are so committed to fighting for the compensation our clients deserve. If you have questions, the New Jersey attorneys at The Law Office of Cohen & Riechelson are here for you. Contact us by calling (609) 528-2596 or fill out an online form.