A plaintiff in a New Jersey medical malpractice case will now be given an opportunity to find a new expert to testify in her case. According to a report in the New Jersey Law Journal, an appellate court ruled that the trial court judge erred when he dismissed the case “midstream” after the New Jersey Supreme Court had changed the rules on qualifications for expert witnesses. The appeals court ruled that the plaintiff should have had the opportunity to seek and obtain a new expert.
The plaintiff in this case had suffered neck injuries in a January 2006 auto accident and underwent spinal surgery in June of that year. She was sent home the same day the procedure was performed, but she soon started to have respiratory issues and experienced severe neck swelling.
Doctors found a tear in her pharynx that had been caused by the spinal surgery. She had to undergo emergency surgery to repair the tear and underwent yet another surgery the following year due to further complications. The patient filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical center and the surgeons.
However, shortly before her case was set to go to trial, the Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases must first obtain “affidavits of merit” from experts who specialize in the same field as the defendants. The trial court judge ruled that the plaintiff’s expert witness was not qualified to opine on the issues surrounding the case because he was not a specialist in the same field as the defendant. The plaintiff did not have the time to obtain another expert witness. The appellate court ruled that the trial court judge “erroneously deprived” the plaintiff of the right to retain an expert who specializes in orthopedic surgery.
This case highlights the importance of expert witnesses in medical malpractices cases. Whether they be cases involving surgical errors or failure to diagnose medical conditions, expert testimony is integral to the proper pursuit of a medical malpractice case. If you or a loved one has been a victim of any type of medical negligence, the experienced New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari can help you. We are available to discuss your potential claim at no cost to you. Please call (973) 635-5400.