NJ Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Medical Negligence Claims in New Jersey
We trust our medical professionals with the most precious thing we have: our health and the well-being of our families. Breaking that trust is inexcusable – but it happens every single day in hospitals and doctors’ offices across the nation.
Each time we go to a medical facility, we expect healthcare providers to evaluate our symptoms properly and promptly. We want to believe that they will diagnose and treat our illnesses and injuries within the standards of care accepted and practiced by the medical community – and for good reason. Whenever doctors deviate from those standards of care, they leave their patients at risk for sustaining serious injuries.
Too often, patients don’t get the care they expect and deserve. Their doctors make devastating mistakes. Life changes in an instant.
These tragedies should never happen. When they do, the patient has the right to seek compensation.
WHAT IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?
In the legal arena, we use terms like medical malpractice and medical negligence to describe the failings on the part of healthcare providers that lead to these preventable injuries. A medical malpractice lawsuit is the legal claim resulting from malpractice that holds healthcare providers accountable for patient injuries caused by their negligence.
For a situation to count as malpractice, the doctor or other healthcare provider must have deviated from accepted standards of medical practice. This deviation can take the form of an action or inaction.
Regardless of whether the negligence was an act or an omission, it must have caused significant injury to a patient to form the basis of a medical negligence lawsuit.
Despite their oath to “do no harm,” so many procedures and treatments in medicine can do a great deal of harm if misused. Among the more common negligent actions a healthcare provider can take include:
- Misdiagnosing a patient’s condition, or diagnosing the wrong condition and subsequently employing treatment methods that could harm patients needlessly.
- Prescribing incorrect or contraindicated drugs and medications that pose more risk than potential benefits. Prescribing medications at dangerously high dosages, also called overprescribing, can also be a form of malpractice.
- Making surgical errors that can include performing the wrong operation, operating on the wrong body part, performing a procedure incorrectly, or leaving foreign materials inside a patient’s body.
Some negligent actions are apparent immediately after the mistake occurs, while others become apparent only years later – often, with the patient suffering all the while.
When a doctor makes one of these mistakes, the harm is often twofold. First of all, patients aren’t getting the care they needed in the first place, such as effective treatment for the disease that was misdiagnosed or the medicine or surgery needed to help a correctly diagnosed disorder.
On top of that, they are being exposed to additional, and sometimes far more serious, risks from the medical care they are enduring.
When negligence takes the form of omissions or inaction, it typically relates to healthcare professionals failing to do something that they should be doing. These omissions can include:
- Failing to monitor patients properly
- Failing to properly follow-up with patients regarding test results or need for ongoing treatment or testing
- Failing to recognize the significance of a patient’s symptoms and complaints
- Failing to order the right tests or interpret results the right way
- Failing to diagnose or treat conditions in a timely manner
- Failing to treat patients’ medical conditions accordingly or make required referrals to other healthcare providers
TYPES OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
Just as there are many different specialties within medicine, there are many different kinds of medical malpractice lawsuits. Some of the doctors’ errors our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers have encountered most often in our careers include:
- Birth injuries
- Hospital negligence
Medical Malpractice in Birth Injuries
From the first prenatal care visit to the actual delivery and immediate post-birth care, doctors, nurses, and other providers must adhere to the standards of care for the best chances of a healthy pregnancy and birth. The providers involved in a mother’s and baby’s care can act negligently in many different ways throughout the pregnancy, birth, and post-delivery care, such as:
- Failing to interpret obstetric ultrasound studies properly
- Failing to order or perform C-sections when needed
- Applying too much force during delivery and causing injuries to the child
- The improper use of forceps/vacuums in assisted deliveries
- Making medication errors before or after delivery
- Failing to properly counsel a couple regarding genetic issues prior to their pregnancy, when that failure constitutes a departure from medical standards of practice
Birth injuries are especially devastating because they affect the most fragile population – newborn babies or babies still in the womb – and because they strike at a time that is supposed to be filled with joy, not grief.
Medical Malpractice Misdiagnosis
In many areas of medicine, the earlier doctors begin treating a condition, the better the prognosis. This is especially true of the most devastating medical conditions, such as cancer and cardiac ailments, and it’s the reason why medical tests that stress early detection are so often administered.
That’s also the reason why a misdiagnosis can be so serious. Any delay in getting the treatment you need for one of these brutal diseases could mean the difference between a favorable prognosis and a bleak one – even between life and death.
Some of the ways a misdiagnosis can happen include:
- Doctors fail to order appropriate tests or wait until too late to perform them.
- Test results are incorrect, misinterpreted, or simply ignored, preventing early detection and treatment of the problem.
Misdiagnoses can prolong suffering, exacerbate prognoses, and even cost lives. The physicians who misdiagnose patients must be held accountable.
Medical Malpractice Hospital Errors
With so much going on in hospital settings, it may come as no surprise that many malpractice claims stem from the care provided in hospitals. Instances of hospital negligence can include:
- Surgical errors, such as unnecessary surgeries and surgery on the wrong body part
- Medication mistakes
- Patient chart (records) mix-ups
- Mismanagement of infections
- Premature discharge of hospitalized patients
HOW COMMON IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?
It’s hard to say precisely how many medical errors occur, as so many are thought to be underreported, but one thing that’s clear is that mistakes are far too prevalent. Even the American Medical Association (AMA) reports that medical errors in the U.S. cause nearly 100,000 deaths annually – more deaths per year than those that result from highway accidents. The American Association for Justice puts that number considerably higher, at 440,000 deaths per year.
Even one single death – for that matter, even a life-changing injury – due to a preventable medical error is too many. For many of the doctors who commit a medical error, it’s not an isolated incident.
Researchers have discovered that many defendants in medical negligence cases are repeat offenders. Nearly one-third of all medical malpractice lawsuits in America stem from negligence on the part of just one percent of physicians. If the victims of their errors don’t come forward and these doctors face no consequences, the likelihood that they will continue harming patients is worryingly high.
WHAT CAUSES MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?
Medical malpractice is preventable. If doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers always met the standard of care, there would be no instances of medical negligence.
Unwanted outcomes may still happen, because a patient’s condition did not respond well to a treatment or because there simply isn’t medicine advanced enough to treat a serious illness effectively. However, they wouldn’t happen unnecessarily, because of the irresponsible actions of a medical provider.
Many factors can contribute to incidents of medical malpractice, including:
- Failing to listen to the patient
- Poor communication between doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals
- Overworked, understaffed, and fatigued healthcare professionals
- Providers who are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs
- Inadequate procedures involving hygiene and equipment sterilization, patient transfers, and organization of patients’ medical records
Some of those factors primarily involve faults on the part of individuals working in medicine, while others reflect large-scale problems in health systems. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter why your medical professionals failed you, other than identifying ways to prevent future mistakes. What matters is that you suffered genuine harm due to the behavior of your providers – and that you get justice for what has happened.
HOW DOES A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE LAWSUIT WORK?
Understanding what needs to happen to win a medical malpractice lawsuit is fairly simple, even though accomplishing those standards is a challenging feat that calls for experienced legal representation.
In medical negligence lawsuits, injured patients bringing a claim – in other words, you – are called the “plaintiffs.” The medical professional accused of injuring the plaintiff is called the “defendant.”
Who to Sue in Medical Malpractice Claims
Doctors aren’t the only defendants you can name in a medical negligence lawsuit. Any healthcare provider who had a duty to care for you and fell short in meeting the standard of care could be liable for the harm you suffered. Depending on the facts of your situation, the defendants in your lawsuit could include:
- Technicians and aides
- Outpatient Medical facilities
Most medical malpractice claims are brought against doctors, nurses, and hospitals. However, our experienced attorneys don’t shy away from naming in a lawsuit any healthcare professional who was culpable for your suffering.
How to Prove Medical Malpractice
To win a claim, the burden of proving that malpractice occurred is on the plaintiff. As we represent you, our medical malpractice attorneys would have to show that your doctor’s actions did not meet the medical “standard of care,” or the protocol that must be followed to provide proper care to a patient.
When we’re able to prove that your medical professional didn’t meet this standard of care or follow accepted protocol, we’re proving that the doctor acted negligently.
How do we go about proving medical negligence? First, we review your medical records for any signs that something unusual or out of the ordinary occurred. Then we bring in the experts. These qualified healthcare providers have the specialized medical background needed to understand what occurred in the course of your care and to decipher whether negligence played a part in your situation.
Their expert opinions show whether a doctor’s behavior departed from that all-important standard of care. Next, we set out to prove that the damage you suffered resulted from the substandard care you received at the hands of the defendant. Again, we draw on many decades of legal experience and as well as the insight of medical experts to show the link between what your healthcare providers did and the preventable poor outcome you endured.
Having a medical malpractice attorney with the skills to overcome the obstacles that can arise in a claim against hospitals’ and health systems’ large and influential legal departments is crucial to getting the justice and compensation you deserve.
WHEN TO SUE FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE
You have this nagging feeling that something went wrong with your medical care or with the treatment a loved one received.
Perhaps you have been wondering for some time now whether malpractice is the reason for an unexpectedly poor outcome. The question is, what can you do about it?
For many reasons, it’s in your best interests to seriously explore the option of pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit. If the injury or complication you or your family member suffered isn’t going away anytime soon, the reality is that neither are these preoccupying thoughts that you can’t shake – thoughts that this shouldn’t have happened.
Understanding what really went wrong is key to helping you move forward with life after this medical situation, but when you have a sneaking suspicion that you can’t trust your own doctor, it’s hard to feel reassured by what your medical professionals say. Having an attorney take a look at the situation can either put your fears to rest, if no negligence happened, or give you the opportunity to take action.
If the medical issue has also left your family struggling under the weight of massive medical bills – or fearing for the future expenses of treating this condition – then there are compelling financial reasons for pursuing a claim. You can’t afford to pay for the doctor’s or hospital’s mistakes – and you simply shouldn’t have to. A medical malpractice settlement can compensate you for all of these costs, plus the intangible but shattering impact on your quality of life.
When a medical condition has changed your life and you question whether things could have gone differently, that’s when it’s time to move forward with a potential medical negligence claim. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you can wait indefinitely to decide that you’re ready to move forward. Your legal rights are limited – and you may have a lot less time than you think.
Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitations in NJ
Statutes of limitations refer to the deadlines for taking certain legal actions. In a New Jersey medical malpractice claim, the statute of limitations generally gives you only two years to file a lawsuit. Miss this two-year timeframe, and you may entirely lose your right to hold a doctor accountable.
That two-year statute starts to run the moment you knew, or should have known, of the alleged malpractice. If the medical error was obvious – like a surgery performed on the wrong body part – that means the clock starts ticking while you’re still in the hospital. On the other hand, if you don’t find out about the mistake until years later, you still have a two-year timeframe to find a medical malpractice lawyer and file suit.
When it comes to serious medical ailments, two years isn’t a lot of time. You may spend months in and out of hospitals, getting therapy and treatment, seeking second opinions, and just trying to get better. Before you know it, you’re nearing that deadline – and now, it’s too late for an attorney to have time to review your full medical records and get a medical expert to evaluate the situation.
If you’re wondering when to start a medical malpractice lawsuit, the answer is now. Waiting to speak to an attorney won’t benefit you, and waiting too long could limit your options.
Can You Reopen a Medical Malpractice Case?
If you miss the deadline to pursue a claim, there are no do-overs. The same is true once you settle a claim – you can’t reopen it just because you now realize it’s worth more than you thought.
That’s exactly why it’s so important to get it right the first time. To do that, you will need a law firm with a history of multimillion-dollar medical malpractice results to represent you.
HOW TO FIND MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ATTORNEY
Choosing a lawyer for a medical malpractice matter is too big a decision to leave up to chance. Rather than simply picking the law firm whose advertisements you see first, you should compare factors like experience, results, and reviews to choose an attorney who is right for you.
Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari has been in business since 1929 and handled personal injury matters since 1963. It’s safe to say we have an abundance of experience handling matters of medical malpractice law. With dozens of multimillion-dollar medical malpractice settlements to our name, we haven’t just handled these cases – we’ve won them, over and over again. Our clients have praised our compassion, professionalism, and attention to detail.
CAN I SUE FOR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?
Ultimately, whether your situation will serve as the grounds for a successful lawsuit is more than a simple yes-or-no question. Only after a careful review of the facts of your situation can an attorney answer this question.
What we can promise is that it will cost you nothing to find out whether or not you have a claim. We offer no-cost private consultations about medical malpractice matters, so even if it turns out that you don’t have a claim, you haven’t lost anything.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ATTORNEY
The law firm of Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari has been instrumental in getting victims of medical malpractice the settlements their families deserve. Contact our New Jersey medical negligence attorneys today at (973) 635-5400 to get started with a no-cost consultation.
ADDITIONAL MEDICAL MALPRACTICE INFORMATION
- Medical Malpractice Blogs
- Labor/Delivery & Neonatal Care
- Birth Injury
- Delayed/Incorrect Diagnosis
- Wilson’s Disease
- Hospital Malpractice including V.A. Hospital Claims
- Nursing Malpractice
- Delayed or Incorrect Treatment
- Failures in Emergency Room Care
- Nursing Home Malpractice
- Opioid Prescription Malpractice
- Testing Errors
- Medication Errors