Personal Injury Blog

What Constitutes Medical Negligence in New Jersey?

April 7, 2020 By Cerussi and Gunn P.C. Legal Team

Medical negligence is the legal doctrine on which most medical malpractice claims in New Jersey center. It is a concept that holds medical professionals accountable for causing patient injuries or deaths through a breach of the standard of care. Learning how to identify medical negligence could help you know when to take legal action against a practitioner or facility in New Jersey for causing you or a loved one’s injuries. A Monmouth County medical malpractice lawyer can help you determine whether you have grounds for a medical malpractice claim in New Jersey.

What Is Medical Negligence?

Medical negligence is the failure of a medical professional to meet the standards of care in the industry, often resulting in harm to a patient. Medical standards provide guidelines and requirements for all phases of patient care, from intake and diagnosis to treatment and release. All parties involved in a patient’s care, including a receptionist, physician’s assistant, physician, nurse and surgeon – as well as the health care center itself – must fulfill their duties according to the applicable medical standards. Failure to do so could lead to civil liability for a patient’s related damages.

Elements of Medical Negligence

Negligence is a common legal theory across all types of personal injury claims in New Jersey. Injury-related civil cases often try to hold one or multiple parties accountable for another party’s injuries based on the belief that the defendant breached a duty of care and that without this breach, the victim’s injuries would not have happened. You might have a valid medical malpractice claim if you or your lawyer can prove the elements necessary to establish medical negligence.

  • A medical duty of care owed. First, the defendant must have been in a position of professional care over you. You must have had a doctor-patient relationship with the defendant at the time of the alleged malpractice.
  • A breach of the professional duty of care. Second, the defendant must have deviated from the accepted standards of care in the medical industry. The defendant must be guilty of misdiagnosis, a surgical error, a medication mistake or another form of medical malpractice that another professional in the same position would not have committed.
  • Compensable damages suffered. Third, you or your lawyer must establish through a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant’s breach of medical duty of care gave you compensable losses. These losses may include physical injuries, emotional distress, medical bills or lost wages.
  • A connection to your damages. Fourth, the defendant’s breach of medical duty must have caused or substantially contributed to your injury or illness. If you would have the same damages regardless of the practitioner’s negligence, you will not have a claim. You may not be able to claim malpractice for the misdiagnosis of a terminal illness, for example, if you would have the same health outcome even with a correct diagnosis.

These are the four main elements of proof necessary to bring a negligence-based claim against a health care provider in New Jersey. The medical standard of care is different than the standards of care in other industries. You may need a medical malpractice lawyer to help you understand a doctor’s duties of care to patients, as well as to determine if a physician committed negligence against you or a loved one. A lawyer can help you gather evidence to prove the elements of a malpractice claim, if applicable.

Medical Negligence May Not Equal Malpractice

It is important to realize that proof of medical negligence will not always equal a medical malpractice lawsuit in New Jersey. Proof of negligence is just one component needed for a valid claim. Even if your lawyer can prove a health care practitioner’s negligence during your care, it will not be enough to obtain financial compensation unless you also have proof of a connection between the negligence and your injury. Speak to a Monmouth County personal injury attorney in New Jersey to find out if you have a medical malpractice claim today.