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How Much Is My Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Worth in New Jersey?

There were 496 medical malpractice lawsuits filed in New Jersey in 2022, with $215.41 million recovered in total, and averaging around $434,000 in damages per case. There are many different forms of medical malpractice. The list below gives a broad overview of the most common forms, though it is not all-encompassing. At its core, medical malpractice should be understood as a physician or medical care facility not following the accepted standard of care that is required of them in treating their patients. That failure to have given the proper care resulted in a serious injury that otherwise would likely not have occurred. 

The American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys provides the following as some examples typically indicative of medical malpractice:

  • Failure to diagnose, or conversely, to misdiagnosis an illness
  • Misinterpreting or failing to look at laboratory results
  • Unnecessary surgery
  • Errors during surgery
  • Giving improper medication or improper dosage 
  • Poor follow-up or aftercare
  • Premature discharge from a medical facility 
  • Failing to take patient history into account 
  • Failure to order proper testing
  • Failure to recognize symptoms

What Damages Can Be Recovered?

Typically, damages in medical malpractice cases are divided into three categories. A person claiming injury can recover for economic damages, non-economic damages, and in rare cases, even punitive damages. Furthermore, in the event of death, the surviving family can sue for wrongful death and recover damages for that as well. Your attorney will work with you to gather all of the information necessary for you to be compensated appropriately for your injuries. There are a number of things that go into consideration in damages claims. 

Economic Damages

  • Medical expenses: both current and future expected medical expenses will be considered, such as costs of surgery, rehabilitation, doctor’s visits, medical supplies, etc. 
  • Past and future lost wages which consider the person’s age, profession, and expected earnings that have been lost as a result of the injury

Non-economic Damages 

  • Pain, suffering, disability, impairment and loss of enjoyment of life (both past and future)
  • Aggravation of pre-existing disability
  • Consortium claim: This is made by the spouse who would have been relying on the injured person for economic support, as well as emotional support and companionship, and can also be claimed by close family members such as children 

Punitive Damages 

Economic and non-economic damages are considered compensatory damages, in that they are awarded to compensate for the harm caused. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are meant to punish the party at fault. They are rare, and are awarded in exceptional circumstances where the physician/medical care facility has acted in such an outrageous manner that it warrants additional damages. They also serve to deter them from engaging in similar conduct in the future. 

How Does a Malpractice Settlement Work?

Malpractice lawsuits can be resolved in either one of two ways: they can be settled out of court through negotiations between opposing parties, or by jury verdict following a trial. It is common for personal injury cases, which malpractice falls under, to be settled out of court to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation. 

In a settlement, the lawyers for both sides can either negotiate directly with each other, or enlist the help of an impartial third party, called a mediator, to help facilitate the process. Typically, a longer negotiation process nets a bigger return for the injured party, which means it is important to be patient with the process and retain an attorney who is skilled at negotiations as well as in court, should the case have to be settled by trial. 

Because a settlement will often appear on a medical practitioner’s record, doctors and/or medical care facilities may be more inclined to go to trial to avoid the blemish on their record. Therefore, an injured party and their attorney has to be prepared for the case to go to court if settlement negotiations are unsuccessful. If the case proceeds to trial, the jury will listen to the evidence and testimony presented by both sides and ultimately decide the amount to award the injured party, if any.

New Jersey has a modified comparative fault rule, which can be understood in two parts:

  1. The injured person cannot be deemed more responsible for the harm than the party being sued. So, if the person suing is deemed by the court to be 51% responsible for the harm (or more), then they cannot recover any damages. 
  2. If they are less responsible than the party they are suing, then the final recovery amount that the injured party is entitled to depends on the fault attributed to both sides. For example, if a doctor is 90% to blame, and the injured party is 10% to blame, then out of a $100,000 damages award, the injured party would get $90,000, and would not be entitled to the 10% ($10,000). For more information on this topic, see this related article

Case Law Analysis

Settlements in medical malpractice lawsuits vary on a case-by-case basis. The primary factors that are considered in settlement negotiations as well as jury verdicts are the age of the injured party, the severity of the injury, and the level of the malpractice by the medical care practitioner. The following New Jersey cases illustrate the wide range of compensatory amounts that have been awarded to injured parties.  

N.C. v. Mabel’s Pharmacy 

  • A minor sued a pharmacy for improperly filling his prescription after he was given the wrong medication which allegedly caused him to suffer from a seizure. 
  • The parties agreed to an out-of-court settlement for $33,000 in compensatory damages. 

M.C. v. Langer-Most MD

  • An infant was born prematurely with permanent injuries due to the OBGYN doctor failing to properly interpret prenatal ultrasounds, which showed a shortened cervix. 
  • Damages were claimed for permanent impairment of the child as well as a loss of services to the parents. 
  • The parties agreed to a $1.975 million settlement out of court, which included $1 million to the child’s special needs trust, $400,000 to the parents, and with the rest being paid to the state and counsel. 

D.E.T. v. Gressock

  • An infant suffered a brain injury during birth, which resulted in the need for procedures to address the injury, as well as developmental delays, epilepsy, and other related problems.
  • The parents sued the OBGYN doctor and the hospital for mismanaging the delivery and failing to appropriately treat and care for the child. 
  • The parties settled for $7.1 million in compensatory damages. 

Why You Need a Lawyer

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious harm as a result of medical malpractice in New Jersey, it could be an extremely traumatic experience, for which a lawsuit can only add to the stress. You need to hire attorneys with experience in this field who will ensure that you get the justice you deserve and are compensated fairly for the harm you have suffered. 

At Rosenblum Law, we’ve been handling medical malpractice claims for decades. We work with medical experts to help support our clients’ claims, and are experienced negotiators when it comes to going up against insurance companies. Our firm is here to help you make sense of your options and protect your rights as a patient. Contact us today for an initial consultation.


What do I have to prove in a medical malpractice lawsuit?

A plaintiff alleging medical malpractice must prove:
(1) the relevant standard of care; 
(2) that they deviated from (didn’t follow) the standard of care;
(3) the deviation was a proximate cause of the injury.

How much will it cost me?

Medical malpractice attorneys will typically offer an initial consultation free of charge. It’s also standard for attorneys to take medical malpractice cases on a contingency basis. This means that they won’t get paid up front. Instead, their attorneys’ fees will come out of any money they win for you in a verdict or settlement. In New Jersey, there are limits on the percentage of total damages that attorneys can recover in a contingency arrangement. An attorney cannot collect a contingent fee above the following limits (except if an enhanced fee is ordered by a judge):
(1) 33 1/3% on the first $750,000 recovered;
(2) 30% on the next $750,000 recovered;
(3) 25% on the next $750,000 recovered;
(4) 20% on the next $750,000 recovered; and
(5) On all amounts recovered in excess of the above by application for reasonable fee as determined by the court
For more information, refer to Rule 1:21-7.

Is there a limit on how much an injured party can receive in compensation in New Jersey?

While 35 states have a cap on compensation, New Jersey falls into the minority with no cap on the amount of compensation a party can receive in a medical malpractice claim. However, there is a limit on punitive damages, which is $350,000 or no greater than five times the amount the party would owe in compensatory damages. See NJ Rev Stat § 2A:15-5.14 (2013)

What are some examples of medical malpractice?

Examples of malpractice that show a departure from the proper standard of care by a physician includes the following: 

· Failure to diagnose, order proper testing, or recognize symptoms, or to misdiagnose
· Misreading or ignoring laboratory results
· Unnecessary surgery, operating on the wrong site, or surgical errors
· Improper medication or dosage
· Poor follow-up or aftercare, premature discharge 
· Disregarding or not taking appropriate patient history

What is the hardest element to prove in a medical malpractice claim?

The elements of a malpractice claim are: 
· A professional duty was owed to the patient 
· The physician breached that duty
· Breach caused the injury 
· The injury resulted in damages to the patient 

The hardest element to prove is causation. This is because even if the doctor did perform a surgery, or diagnose in a timely manner, it is possible that complications would still arise. For example, cancer is known to be a deadly disease, so it can be difficult to show that a person’s lowered lifespan or lowered quality of life has been caused by the doctor’s delayed diagnosis, since it may have happened either way. However, in certain cases it can be proven that even though the doctor didn’t cause the cancer, the patient likely would have had a better outcome had the cancer been detected and treated earlier. 

Who can be sued?

Hospitals can be sued if doctors and nurses acted within the scope of their employment when they committed the alleged malpractice. This is also known as vicarious liability, where the employer is responsible for the acts of the employee.
Doctors can be sued on an independent basis if they are independent contractors, or work outside of a hospital setting, such as when they own their own practice.
Pharmaceutical companies can be held responsible for negligence if they fail to warn the physicians who prescribe their drugs of dangerous side effects that have now caused injury.

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