Compensatory and Punitive Damages in NJ Medical Malpractice Claims

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.

What damages can a MeCompensatory and Punitive Damages in NJ Medical Malpractice Claimsdical Negligence Victim recieve in NJ?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

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Surgical errorsSurgical 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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?

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:

  1. The likelihood at the time that the defendant knew their conduct would cause serious harm.
  2. The defendant’s awareness of reckless disregard for the harm that their conduct may cause
  3. The defendant’s conduct after learning that their initial action would likely cause harm; and
  4. 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 Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson are here for you.  Contact us by calling (609) 528-2596 or fill out an online form.

Radiology Errors Result in Injury and Medical Malpractice Risk

Of the 8,401 radiologists sampled in 47 states have experienced at least one medical malpractice lawsuit during their years in the profession.

Radiology As Medical Malpractice RiskWhen someone undergoes a medical procedure or seeks the professional support of a radiologist, they rightfully expect that they will safely and securely complete the procedure and return home on the path to health. Generally, this is the case. Radiologists, who are required to have at least 13 years of training to practice the profession, are highly skilled and trustworthy medical practitioners. However, accidents and errors do happen, as they do in all medical and other fields. According to the journal Radiology, published by the Radiological Society of North America, nearly a third (31 percent) of the 8,401 radiologists sampled in 47 states have experienced at least one medical malpractice lawsuit during their years in the profession.

What is radiology?

Radiology is a medical field that uses medical imaging to assess organs and other human and animal body parts to diagnose and treat diseases. This medical imaging may include such tests as MRI, PET scans, CT scans, and mammograms. A radiologist is often present in your medical diagnosis and treatment where medical imaging technology is involved, whether or not you are aware. The physician will often seek the expert opinion of the radiologist regarding the imaging results. A radiologist often focuses their area of expertise and practice on a particular body or patient type system.

Diagnosis Errors by Radiologists

Of course, radiologists are expected to precisely and expertly complete their work to support the diagnosis and treatment of the patient. Even though this is almost always the case, mistakes do happen. Radiologists are more participatory in using their expertise to diagnose the disease than treating it, though, as noted above, radiologists sometimes engage in treatment. As such, it is no surprise that most medical malpractice lawsuits against radiologists happen due to an error caused in the diagnosis element of the patient’s journey to health. According to the article “The Causes of Medical Malpractice Suits Against Radiologists in the United States,” published in the journal Radiology, malpractice suits regarding diagnosis What is radiology?make up the vast majority of those claims in which radiologists are involved. While much less represented, errors caused by radiologists in the treatment of patients were reported to have also caused some medical malpractice suits. According to the article, the diagnosis (or, rather, missed diagnosis) for which most medical malpractice suits were brought against radiologists was breast cancer. Because of the disease’s dangerous nature, any early detection is imperative to ensure that the patient can securely remove cancerous cells before spreading.

What are Other Common Types of Malpractice Injuries?

Other undiagnosed or misdiagnosed diseases or injuries that create risk for further damage and have led to the majority of medical malpractice lawsuits involving radiologists are spinal and nonspinal fractures, lung cancer, and various heart diseases. As one could imagine, the failure to identify an injury – such as a spinal fracture – could lead to further fracture and/or improper pressure placed on other supporting body parts, creating misalignments leading to chronic pain or even permanent nerve damage. The failure to identify a disease or cancerous growth could lead to its reinforcement and spread at varying paces, removing years from a patient’s natural life.

Procedural Mistakes by Radiologists

In addition to errors in diagnosis, radiologists are also sued for malpractice if they incorrectly carry out a procedure. Such procedural mistakes include incorrectly taking imaging or improperly or incorrectly communicating their findings to the attending physician.

Radiologists make up a fraction of medical practitioners in the United States, a mere 3.6 percent, according to the Radiology article “The Causes of Medical Malpractice Suits Against Radiologists in the United States.” However, their malpractice footprint is much larger. According to the article, radiologists ranked sixth among all medical specialists in the cases of malpractice lawsuits against them, more than cardiologists, plastic surgeons, and anesthesiologists – other medical specialties for which a large number of medical malpractice lawsuits are reported.

Get in Touch with a Mercer County Medical Malpractice Attorney The importance of radiologists in medical procedures is clear. Their responsibility to carry out their professional medical training to the fullest extent of their expertise is necessary to ensure that involved patients safely undergo their injury or disease’s diagnosis and treatment process. Any slip in professional capacity could have lifelong consequences. As such, having the support of a personal injury attorney if you are the victim of a radiologist’s medical negligence during your procedure is essential.

Radiology errors affecting you? Get in Touch with a Mercer County Medical Malpractice Attorney

At Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson, our attorneys, our experienced team of personal injury lawyers, represent clients in towns across New Jersey and Mercer County, including New Brunswick, Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and Lawrence in all cases of medical malpractice.

To schedule a confidential consultation with our firm today to discuss your claim, please contact us online or through our Trenton, NJ office (609) 528-2596.

Why Won’t My NJ Primary Care Doctor Treat My Car Accident Injuries?

Top 3 Reasons Your NJ Primary Care Doctor Shouldn’t Treat You After A Motor Vehicle Accident.

Why Won’t My NJ Primary Care Doctor Treat My Car Accident Injuries?After an automobile accident, you must seek prompt medical attention, whether your personal injuries are severe enough that you are treated in a hospital emergency room immediately after the accident or a few days afterward. If the pain or discomfort of your injuries appears a few days after your accident or grows significantly worse over time, your initial thought may be to call or visit your primary care physician. Regretfully, it is quite likely that your physician will inform you they cannot treat you due to your symptoms being connected to the accident. Your doctor wants you to receive the best care and are looking after your best interests. Rather than becoming disheartened, feeling abandoned, or frustrated, you should consider that traumatic injuries are not their main area of expertise.

Your primary care physician treats various illnesses and injuries every day, but probably not the type of common injuries sustained in car accidents: whiplash, soft tissue injuries, traumatic brain injuries, blunt force trauma to the head or chest, broken bones, spinal injuries, ligament or tendon damage, and much more. These types of injuries require proper diagnosis, care, and documentation so that if you suffered severe or life-changing injuries and need money for medical bills, pain and suffering, wage loss, and other hardships, you can recover the maximum compensation for your losses.

The attorneys at the Law Office of Kamensky Cohen & Riechelson are admitted to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We are engaged in teaching this complex area of litigation to attorneys from both states. Since 1972, we have helped numerous clients obtain compensation for injuries sustained in automobile accidents throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Our experienced team of lawyers is dedicated to helping you obtain the compensation you need and deserve.

Contact us online or by telephone at (609) 528-2596 to arrange a consultation with an experienced auto accident lawyer. You only have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. After the statute of limitations expires, you will no longer be able to sue to collect compensation for your injuries.

Reason #1: Improper Diagnosis From Your NJ Doctor Could Delay Proper Treatment

The adrenalin from a car accident may mask pain. If you are experiencing pain, your primary care doctor may prescribe pain medication and recommend giving it a few days or weeks to heal independently. These days or weeks without proper medical treatment or documentation could delay a proper diagnosis connecting the injuries, chronic pain, numbness, tingling, problems sleeping, or even PTSD with the accident. Specialists such as orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, physiatrists, and chiropractors, etc., will know and recommend consistent treatment and possibly physical therapy right away and will more likely be able to provide:

  • a detailed analysis of what happened to you as a result of the accident
  • a detailed synopsis of any pre-existing injuries or conditions that were not caused by the accident
  • key details about if the accident aggravated your pre-existing injuries
  • a list of medical tests they performed (i.e., range of motion, nerve compression tests, etc.)
  • Reason #1: Improper Diagnosis From Your NJ Doctor Could Delay Proper Treatmentspecialized MRI’s, X-rays, digital motion X-rays, etc
  • prescriptions to physical, occupational, & mental therapy, and vocational rehabilitation
  • info regarding specialists referrals for surgery or pain management
  • an explanation of whether your injuries are a temporary or permanent disability
  • details about future medical needs
  • impairment ratings (i.e., injuries’ effects on your ability to work, perform daily activities, etc.)

Reason #2: A NJ Accident Injury Specialist Can Accurately Value Your Case

Gaps in treatment can decrease the value of your personal injury claim and as well as your chances of recovering from your injuries. Treatment from a specialist can provide you and your personal injury attorney with accurately detailed information about how the motor vehicle accident has caused you harm, various losses (financial, mobility, quality of life, etc.), and injuries; you will have a stronger case to justify the insurance company or the negligent party paying you the maximum compensation for your personal injury claim.

Reason #3: PIP Billing Related Insurance Difficulties from Your NJ Accident

Your primary care physician may not accept your Personal Injury Protection (PIP)  coverage to treat your injuries. Known as “no-fault insurance,” the initial funds to cover expenses and damages will come from your auto insurance provider regardless of fault. The caveat is that although PIP can pay for medical, living, or rehab expenses after you suffer an injury after a car accident, PIP billing can be complicated, which means many primary care physician offices often choose not to see patients who PIP will cover.

While emergency rooms are capable of billing your PIP insurance, if you need a follow-up (or your injuries don’t require urgent treatment), your appointment must be with a physician who not only specifically works with motor vehicle accident victims and can provide you with the best treatment, but can also capably and confidently handle PIP billing.

Contact Our Mercer County Car Accident and Personal Injury Attorneys Today

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, we have extensive experience helping clients across Mercer County, Trenton, Princeton, and Hamilton recover the compensation they need and deserve for their injuries. We work closely with investigative and medical experts to help prove your claim and provide honest, intelligent, and diligent service to all of our clients.

If you or a loved one has been injured by another party’s reckless or negligent actions in an accident, including medical malpractice, product liability, premises liability, or a slip and fall, please contact us online or through our Trenton, NJ office at (609) 528-2596, for a free and confidential consultation regarding your accident injuries and options for recovering compensation.

How to value a wrongful death claim in NJ

In New Jersey, the value of a wrongful death claim is based on financial impact, and not on emotional loss.

Financial Impact vs Emotional Loss in Wrongful Death Cases Mercer County NJCoping with the death of a loved one can be so stressful and emotionally draining. You may be experiencing overwhelming grief and at the same time anger about your loss. You may have to plan a funeral, settle your loved one’s personal and business responsibilities, and deal with suddenly intense financial needs as a result of your loss.

But you may be eligible to win financial compensation by means of a wrongful death claim. It depends on the cause of your loved one’s death, either by medical malpractice, an accident in the workplace, a deadly assault, or other circumstances.

What Is Wrongful Death in New Jersey?

“Wrongful death” is defined as the death of a person due to an act that should not have occurred (such as neglect), or an act that the person would have been compensated for had they survived. Common wrongful death cases include:

Who Can Benefit?

A wrongful death claim can be made by the surviving dependents of the deceased person, according to N.J.S.A. 2A:31-4.  These can include:

  • A spouse and any children or grandchildren.
  • Parents of a deceased person, typically if that person was unmarried with no children.
  • Siblings, nieces, or nephews of the deceased person.
  • Anyone who is able to prove that he or she was truly dependent on the deceased person.

First priority in paying out wrongful death cases is given to the surviving spouse and children, then to parents, and then to siblings, nieces, and nephews.

What Can I Seek Compensation For?

Commonly, people file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for:

  • What Can I Seek Compensation For?Loss of the finances provided by the deceased person. This is based on the amount of money that the deceased would have earned had he or she lived.
  • Loss of household services, like childcare and chores.
  • Loss of companionship, comfort, or care.
  • The expense of medical care related to the injury, and funeral expenses related to death.

Please note that, in New Jersey, the value of a wrongful death claim is based on financial impact, and not on emotional loss. Surviving family members cannot recover from emotional distress or seek punitive damages in a wrongful death claim.

However, depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death, you might be able to make a claim under the NJ Survival Statute. This allows the estate of the victim to pursue compensation for suffering and pain, as well as lost wages and medical expenses, that the victim experienced during the time of the accident to the untimely death.

Finally, keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations to file the claim. All wrongful death cases in New Jersey must be filed within at most two years of the date of death. Beyond that two-year time limit, the case will most likely not proceed.

Why would I go ahead with a wrongful death claim?

A wrongful death case can provide the money you need to pay outstanding medical bills or funeral costs. It can help your family replace the income you’ve lost, and will continue to lose, as a result of the wrongful death.

The case might also benefit you by bringing the person responsible for the death to account. Often, a wrongful death lawsuit is the only way to do this.

These are important benefits, but there are also important potential costs to think about.

Potential Downsides of a Wrongful Death Case

During a wrongful death case:

  • You may have to talk about the accident and about your loved one. This can be emotionally difficult.
  • You may feel as if you are putting a price tag on your loss. However, you are not profiting financially from your loved one’s death.

If you choose to file a wrongful death claim, it is your attorney’s job to make the process go as smoothly as possible for you.

How do I file?

Contact Monmouth County NJ Lawyers TodayMost states require a wrongful death case to be filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased person, who brings the wrongful death case for the benefit of the deceased’s surviving spouse and children if there are any, or more distant relatives if not.

Why would I need a wrongful death lawyer?

A skilled attorney can help you gather evidence, prove your case, and recover damages in court or reach a fair settlement. In reaching a settlement, your lawyer knows how to leverage evidence and present convincing arguments to get the best settlement. Your attorney can also make sure that all of your rights are protected.

Contact Trenton NJ Lawyers Today

Coping with the loss of a loved one can be overwhelmingly stressful. You need an attorney who is not only compassionate but also able to leverage legal knowledge and experience to fight for your rights.

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, Our team’s skill, and dedication to your family, can make all the difference in securing compensation for the unwarranted loss of your loved one in  Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and the greater Mercer County area.

To arrange a free consultation to discuss your wrongful death claim, please contact us online, or through our Trenton office at 609.528.2596. We look forward to working with you.

Medical Error and Misconduct May be More Common Than You Think

Medical Malpractice Attorneys with offices in Trenton and East Brunswick NJ

Medical Malpractice Attorneys in New Jersey with offices in Trenton NJMedical misconduct and medical malpractice in extreme cases can lead to serious and sometimes fatal patient injuries and cause great financial hardship for its victims. A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and reported on by the Washington Post showed that about one out of every five people is a victim of medical mistakes, malpractice, or negligence. This alarming report found that many more people than previously believed have suffered from medical malpractice. The report went on to emphasize that “medical errors by healthcare professionals don’t just put a patient’s physical health at risk, but they can be equally damaging to a person’s mental state and financial well-being.”

In this groundbreaking study, more than 2,500 adults in the U.S. were surveyed about their personal experiences with medical misconduct and errors, as well as their knowledge of medical errors affecting friends and family members.

Shockingly, the study found that one of the most common places where medical malpractice and negligence occur is at ambulatory sites.  “Ambulatory sites” refers to several different types of medical centers that serve outpatient needs. Of the patients surveyed in the study, greater than 20% had themselves been the victim of a medical mistake, moreover above 30% “acknowledged someone else whose care they were closely involved with had been victimized by medical malpractice or misconduct.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

Often there is confusion about what exactly constitutes medical malpractice.  Many incorrectly believe that if someone is facing a medical procedure, emergency, or otherwise, and the results are less than ideal, this is somehow the doctor, hospital, or other medical staff. However, this is not always the case. Even though we place a high level of trust in healthcare professionals, it is critically important to remember that they are not miracle workers. However, particular circumstances where the doctor, hospital, or other medical staff can and should be held liable for injuries caused while a patient is under their care.

In legal terms, medical malpractice is defined as deviation from the standard of care that causes harm or when a hospital, doctor, or other health care professional, through any negligent act or omission, causes an injury to a patient. This negligence can be the result of errors in diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare or health management.

Any valid medical malpractice claims must have the following characteristics:

  • What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?Provable deviations from the standard of care – Medical standards recognized as being acceptable medical treatment by prudent health care professionals under like or similar circumstances are known as the standard of care and are accepted throughout the medical profession.
  • An injury was caused by negligence or a deviation from the standard of care– It is not enough that a health care professional violated the standard of care for a medical malpractice claim to be valid. It is also necessary to prove that an injury was suffered that otherwise would not have occurred in the absence of malpractice.
  • The injury or injuries that were received resulted in damages. In addition to an actual injury, it has to be proven that significant damages resulted from an injury received due to medical negligence. Put simply, it must be shown that the injury resulted in disability, loss of income, unusual pain, suffering, or significant past and future medical bills.

Common Myths Associated with Medical Malpractice Claims

Due to a great amount of misinformation, it is a common belief that there are too many malpractice cases and that these malpractice cases are the cause of higher premiums and doctor shortages. In truth, this could not be further from the truth. These myths often include the following assertions:

  • There are far too many frivolous and unfounded medical malpractice lawsuits. However, this is refuted by a recent report by the American Association for Justice that showed that in reality, only 1 in every 8 victims of medical malpractice actually files a lawsuit.
  • The huge number of medical malpractice lawsuits is driving up healthcare costs. One can trace this belief to a since debunked study from the 1980s and early 1990s. In reality, the total cost of defending against medical malpractice claims and the paying of settlements and verdicts comprises a mere 0.3 percent of healthcare spending, according to the above-mentioned study.
  • The costs associated with frivolous malpractice claims are causing doctors to leave the profession in mass numbers. The truth is that the number of doctors has been steadily increasing, given that being a doctor is still a very lucrative career.

The often serious effects and damages caused by medical mistakes can be life-altering. If someone is injured due to a doctor or hospital negligence, they must receive the compensation that they need and deserve. However, just because someone is injured, that does not mean that they will be fairly compensated.  It is critical to have an experienced attorney at your side to fight for your rights and help you get on the path toward being whole again.

Consult with an Experienced Med Mal and Personal Injury Attorney in Mercer and Middlesex County NJ

At The Law Office of Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson, our legal attorneys have decades of experience supporting clients across Princeton, Lawrence, Hamilton, New Brunswick, and Mercer County who have been injured due to doctor, hospital, or other health care professional negligence or malpractice.

To schedule a confidential assessment with our firm today regarding your charge, please call (609) 528-2596 or visit our website to fill out an online form.