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New Jersey introduces bill that may limit malpractice suits

Recently, the New Jersey legislature has introduced a bill that would increase protections doctors accused of medical negligence. Currently, New Jersey ranks sixth in the nation in successful medical malpractice claims, driving up the cost of insurance premiums for doctors. The bill's supporters argue that the rise of team-based health care and the growing number of patients mandate that limits be placed on medical malpractice suits.

However, the bill's opponents fear that the law would reduce accountability. Another concern is that it could bar legitimate medical malpractice claims since one provision mandates that plaintiffs name all of the defendants at least 120 days before the trial starts. It also extends a grant of immunity to doctors who may not already have a relationship with the patient. These are doctors who are volunteering or paid to take action in an emergency at a hospital. The bill also prohibits insurance companies from raising doctor's rates in response to merely being named in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Medical malpractice typically occurs due to the negligence of an individual doctor or of the hospital itself. For instance, it arises when the doctor does not adhere to accepted practice standards or when the hospital does not adequately train its personnel or fails to keep the institution sanitary. These forms of negligence can have harmful or even deadly consequences for patients.

In addition, the concept of respondeat superior also applies to medical malpractice claims. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer could be liable for the negligent conduct of employees if this conduct occurred during the scope of their employment. In the case of medical malpractice, hospitals could be held liable for the negligent conduct of doctors operating under them as employees.

Individuals affected by medical malpractice may seek an appropriate remedy in the form of monetary damages. They may obtain a personal injury judgment against the doctor and/or the hospital involved, and they may recover a fair and just monetary compensation for their injuries. This is the justice that they are entitled to seek for the wrong done to them.

Source: NJSpotlight.com, "Bill Would Bolster Protection for Doctors Accused of Malpractice," Andrew Kitchenman, Feb. 6, 2013

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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