Medical malpractice claims can help plaintiffs injured by doctors and other medical professionals get the compensation they need to recover. If you believe you have a medical malpractice action on your hands, you have a limited time to file your claim.
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is only 2 years. A different statute of limitations applies to cases involving minors and their parents. While a few years sounds like a long time, it is actually a relatively short period of time to get your case together. Plaintiffs can toll the statute of limitations and buy more time if specific conditions are met. You might also have to meet different deadlines if the defendant or plaintiff in a medical malpractice case dies before the case can be filed. After you file your case, the time it takes to complete it might be unpredictable, and you should speak to an attorney about your situation.
If negligent doctors injured you, our New Jersey personal injury attorneys can help you file your claim in a timely manner. Call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769 for a free case review.
How Long You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in New Jersey
A statute of limitations is a deadline for filing certain kinds of civil lawsuits. Different types of cases often adhere to different statutes of limitations, and it is important to speak with a lawyer about the deadlines on your specific case. For medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations can be found under N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-2(a) and imposes a deadline of 2 years.
Exactly when the clock on the statute of limitations begins counting down depends on the unique factors of your situation. Generally, the time starts counting down on the date your injuries occurred. This means if you were harmed by a doctor’s negligence on January 1st, 2020, you have until January 1st, 2022 to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
However, there are times when the clock does not start ticking until later. For example, many plaintiffs do not realize they are injured until much later. Someone who suffers from a chronic pain condition might not notice the pain caused by other injuries inflicted by a doctor for several years. In such cases, plaintiffs can argue that the statute of limitations runs from the date they realized their injuries. Our Jersey City personal injury lawyers can help you determine when the statute in your case began to run.
Examples of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in New Jersey
If you are unsure if your case constitutes a medical malpractice action, you can speak to our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers. There are multiple ways in which a doctor’s negligence can injure patients, and no two medical malpractice cases are the same. It is also important to speak with an attorney because malpractice is not always obvious, and some patients do not realize their doctor’s actions were negligent.
One common kind of medical malpractice case involves treatment gone wrong. Any doctor or nurse will tell you that the outcome of treatment is never a sure thing, and sometimes there are complications. In some cases, these complications come from the substandard care provided by medical professionals. If the standard of care provided by your doctor was inadequate, and you were injured as a result, you might have a medical malpractice case.
In other cases, the treatment provided to the patient was the wrong course of action or completely unnecessary. Treatments can be risky, and unnecessary or incorrect treatments often put patients at risk with little to no improvement in their conditions. If a reasonable doctor in the same situation should have known better than to provide a certain kind of treatment, you might be able to sue for malpractice.
Many other medical malpractice claims arise because patients were not advised of the risks of treatment. Even if the course of treatment taken by your doctor is appropriate, they must advise you of any risks. If you are not adequately warned about potential complications and you are injured as a result, our Newark personal injury lawyers can help you sue for damages.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims for Minors in New Jersey
The law tends to treat cases involving children differently than ordinary malpractice cases. Minors, especially young children, often cannot bring a medical malpractice case on their own, and the 2-year statute of limitations might expire before they turn 18. As such, the law applies a special rule to cases involving minors.
Under § 2A:14-2(b), children have more time to file medical malpractice claims if a parent or guardian has not done so on their behalf. According to the law, parents must file a malpractice lawsuit for injuries the child sustained at birth before the child turns 13. If no parent or guardian has filed a claim by the time the child is 12, the child can have a guardian appointed by the court to file a case on their behalf.
In cases involving injuries sustained some time after birth, If the minor does not file a claim before they reach the age of 18, the ordinary statute of limitations will begin running on their 18th birthday. This means that if you sustained injuries due to medical malpractice as a child, you have 2 years from the day you turn 18 to file your claim.
There is another rule that applies to parents filing a lawsuit to claim damages they have experienced due to medical malpractice suffered by their child. According to § 2A:14-2.1, a parent may bring an action for their own damages related to the malpractice suffered by the child in the same time frame as the child may bring their own case.
Tolling Statutes of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in New Jersey
The statute of limitations in a medical malpractice case is not always set in stone. There are ways in which a plaintiff can toll the statute and buy themselves more time to file their lawsuit. Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-22, if the defendant in your case is not a resident of New Jersey or leaves New Jersey when your cause of action accrues, the time they spend outside the state will not count toward your total time to file under the statute of limitations.
There are some caveats to this rule. For example, if the defendant in your case has left the state but can be reached using a long-arm statute and served with notice of the lawsuit, the statute cannot be tolled. Only if the defendant cannot be reached by means of a long-arm statute can you toll the statute.
There may be other ways to toll the statute of limitations. Our New Jersey pedestrian attorneys can check your case for any opportunity to stop the clock for pedestrians. For example, plaintiffs who are disabled and cannot file the lawsuit may toll the statute until they are capable of filing.
What Happens if the Defendant in a Medical Malpractice Case in New Jersey Dies?
When it comes to a lawsuit, anything can happen, including the death of the parties. If the defendant in your medical malpractice case passes away before you have a chance to file your claim, the claim is not necessarily lost. According to N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-23, the 6 months immediately following the defendant’s death will not count toward the time you have to file your medical malpractice action.
Essentially, if the doctor or another liable person in your case passes away before you can file the lawsuit, you have an extra 6 months added to the clock. The malpractice action survives the death of the potential defendant, like a doctor or nurse. However, the time it takes to settle the decedent’s estate and final matters might cost a plaintiff precious time, so this rule helps them stay on track to file their claim on time.
Our New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys can help you move forward with your case even after the death of one of the parties. Such an occurrence may make things very complicated, and you should discuss the matter with your lawyer immediately.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit After the Injured Plaintiff Dies in New Jersey
You may also find yourself in a precarious legal position when the plaintiff of a medical malpractice lawsuit dies before the case can be filed. It is not unusual for medical malpractice plaintiffs to be in poor health due to existing medical conditions or complications caused by a negligent doctor. If they pass away before the case is filed, a similar rule to the one above for deceased defendants applies.
Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-23.1, the 6 months following the plaintiff’s death is not added to time calculations when computing the statute of limitations. This is useful for surviving family members who still want to file the lawsuit and recover the damages the plaintiff could have recovered had they survived.
If you are a family member or executor of the plaintiff’s estate, you can recover damages related to funeral and burial expenses under N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-3. You have 2 years from the date of the injured victim’s death to file your claim and recover these damages. However, the victim’s death must have been directly caused by medical malpractice, and you might also be dealing with a wrongful death case.
How Long Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Last in New Jersey?
How long your case may last is difficult to say. Every case is different, and some cases move slower or faster than others. Our New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys can review your case and give you an idea of how long it might take to complete but remember that nothing is guaranteed, and your situation may change later.
It is good to file your lawsuit sooner rather than later, as many cases take months or even years to resolve. If you wait to file, you risk losing important evidence, witnesses, and other information important to your case. With fewer resources to work with, your case might slow down drastically.
Our New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys can help you speed things up by negotiating a settlement agreement. How quickly we can reach an agreement depends on the damages you need covered and the willingness of the defendant to cooperate. If a settlement is reached, there is no need for a trial, and your case will end sooner.
When is the Best Time to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in New Jersey?
The best time to file a medical malpractice lawsuit is as soon as you know you have been injured. As we discussed before, many plaintiffs do not realize their doctor has injured them until sometime after the fact. Speaking to other doctors and getting second opinions and speaking to a lawyer may help you realize your injuries sooner.
It is important to begin your case as soon as possible because the statute of limitations is shorter than people realize. While 2 years to file a lawsuit sounds like a long time, it really is not. Many injured plaintiffs spend months recovering from their injuries before filing their lawsuits. You must also consider the time it takes to gather evidence and witnesses supporting your claims. You should also take time to see other doctors and get second opinions about your condition.
While many plaintiffs end up waiting to file their lawsuits for reasons beyond their control, you should speak to our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers about filing now if you can. Medical malpractice claims often involve extremely severe injuries and very expensive damages, and if you miss your time to file, you might lose out on significant compensation.
Call Our New Jersey Medical Malpractice Attorneys for Guidance
If you or someone close to you suffered injuries due to a medical professional’s negligence, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover damages. Call our New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers for a free case review today. Call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769.