Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a medical professional, such as a doctor, due to the professional not fulfilling their duty of care. This means the professional did not competently perform their duties or was grossly negligent when caring for a patient.
Depending on where you are located, the rules and laws regarding medical malpractice can change. Each state has its own statute of limitations and special requirements to file and later prove a medical malpractice claim. In New Jersey, the laws largely aim to protect the patients of doctors and ensure they receive the best care, and protect them when they do not.
Statute of Limitations
Every state has its own limits on when a claim can be filed. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations is set at two years. This means the victim of malpractice has two years from the date of injury to file a claim. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
The Discovery Rule
A patient doesn’t always know they haven’t receive proper care. Sometimes, an injury or misdiagnosis is either not discovered or isn’t shown to be caused at the time of malpractice. In New Jersey, the two-year limitation then begins when the victim could reasonably learn that their injury or condition has come as a result of the poor care received.
Sometimes parents choose not to take legal action, but the child may have life-lasting effects in which they need to be compensated for. In New Jersey, the clock on limitations begins on the child’s 18th birthday unless the injury was sustained at birth. In this case, the legal guardian must commence the claim before the child’s 13th birthday.
In some cases, the statute of limitations can be extended. Such cases include when a defendant leaves the state after committing the malpractice. Other cases include when the victim is mentally ill or mentally disabled, restricting them from filing a claim. Other extensions can also be granted on a case-to-case basis. If you feel you have a medical malpractice claim and are unsure if you can pursue legal action, talk to our team of South Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at Bochetto & Lentz. We will put our years of experience to work for you and find the best solution for your claim.