Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- 1. (Q.) What is medical malpractice?
- (A.) The simple answer is that it is carelessness or negligence. The technical definition in New Jersey is a deviation from the accepted standard of care. That means that a doctor or medical professional has failed to do that which he or she is required to do under the circumstances, or has done something which the generally accepted standard of care says he or she should not have done. Basically, it is a medical error or mistake, and does not have to be an intentional act to cause harm.
- 2. (Q.) Does a bad result mean that there was medical malpractice?
- (A.) No. A bad result does not necessarily mean that a doctor or other medical professional did something wrong. Complications can occur. In order for there to have been malpractice where a bad result has occurred, the health care provider must have been careless or negligent.
- 3. (Q.) What should I do if I suspect that a family member or I have been a victim of a medical malpractice?
- (A.) First you should make sure to talk to your doctor to try to understand what went wrong. Also, do not hesitate to seek the advice of yet another medical provider. If you do suspect after this that a malpractice has occurred, you should then contact an attorney who is experienced in medical malpractice law.
- 4. (Q.) How long do I have to make a claim for medical malpractice?
- (A.) This varies from state to state. In New Jersey generally an individual has 2 years from the date of a malpractice to file a lawsuit. If the lawsuit is not filed in time the right to bring the lawsuit is forever lost. However, that right can run from the time that you knew or should have known that a medical malpractice may have occurred. Additionally, a minor has 2 years from the time that he or she turns 18 to file a claim. That, however, has recently been changed in the case of a minor who sustains a birth related injury. The time limit in New Jersey in such a case is 10 years. Additionally, if a doctor or healthcare provider is employed by, or is part of, a governmental entity in New Jersey, notice of the prospective claim must be filed under New Jerseys Tort Claims Act within 90 days of the event or the right to bring a claim even if a lawsuit is filed timely, may be lost. It is therefore extremely important that as soon as a medical malpractice is suspected, you contact a lawyer immediately. Additional time limits and notification requirements also exist if the healthcare provider is employed by or part of the United States Government.
- 5. (Q.) Will another doctor be required to be involved in my case?
- (A.) Yes. In the vast majority of medical malpractice cases, in order to maintain a claim in the courts in New Jersey, you must have a doctor or other healthcare provider in the same field as the doctor against whom the claim is being made issue an Affidavit of Merit that there is a probability that the healthcare provider did something wrong in your care and treatment which injured you. If the case goes to trial an expert in the field must testify on your behalf in order to establish the standard of care.
Because of the complicated nature of medical malpractice cases, you should take whatever steps are necessary to consult with an attorney as quickly as possible after you believe that a malpractice has occurred.
This information is being supplied as a general overview and is not intended to be legal advice as to any specific claim.