Are There Damage Limits for Medical Malpractice Cases in New Jersey?
Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on Dec 10, 2019 in Medical Malpractice News
If you are considering filing a medical malpractice claim in New Jersey, there are many laws that could apply. In cases of intentional or egregious malpractice, victims may be eligible for compensation. However, there is a cap on the value of these damages.
The New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers at the Lynch Law Firm are ready to review your medical malpractice claim. You can ask us about the potential value of your claim and any limits on the damages you may face during a free, no-obligation consultation.
What Are Damage Caps?
Damage caps limit the amount of money a person can receive in a civil suit. These caps may apply to different aspects of the claim, such as economic damages, non-economic damages or punitive damages. They serve to limit the amount of money that a claimant can receive as part of his or her case against the defendant.
Currently, New Jersey only imposes a cap on punitive damages - $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever amount is greater.
Damage caps have been imposed in many jurisdictions to prevent exorbitant awards and to prevent certain systems from charging more to consumers. For example, it is believed that when victims receive large awards from insurance companies, this increases the cost of medical malpractice and health insurance for everyone.
However, damage caps can also impose arbitrary limits on a victim and prevent him or her from receiving funds for damages that directly stem from the accident.
Compensatory Damages vs. Punitive Damages
Compensatory damages are much different from punitive damages. Compensatory compensate the victim for the losses he or she suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence.
Compensatory damages may consist of both economic and non-economic damages that directly stem from the accident. Economic damages may include specific losses that a victim suffered because of the accident, including:
- Medical expenses for past medical care and the reasonably-anticipated cost of future care
- Loss of income, including wages lost while the victim received treatment and could not work as well as the lost earning capacity he or she suffered if the victim is unable to return to work
- Corrective surgery costs
Non-economic damages compensate the victim for the intangible suffering he or she endured because of the substandard care provided by the health care provider. These damages may include:
- Physical pain
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
Punitive damages are additional funds collected from the at-fault party which are meant to punish the at-fault party and help prevent anyone from engaging in similar misconduct in the future.
Punitive damages are rarely applied, unless there is evidence that the defendant’s actions were malicious or that the defendant acted in wanton and willful disregard of your rights.
You must be able to prove this with evidence that is clear and convincing, which is a higher standard of proof than what is necessary to prove your eligibility for other damages. The evidence provided in a punitive damages claim must not leave significant doubt about the verdict. Your lawyer may hire an expert witness to testify and assert the evidence is valid.
How Comparative Negligence Could Reduce Damages
Comparative negligence is a legal principle that apportions fault between two or more negligent parties. For example, if you were injured because of your doctor’s misconduct and because you did not follow his orders, you might be partially to blame for your injuries.
If you were not more than 50 percent at fault for your injuries, you can still file a claim, however, your compensation award may be reduced, depending on your percentage of fault. For instance, if the damages award was $10,000 and you were 50 percent at fault, you will only receive $5,000 of the award.
However, victims who are more than 50 percent at fault are prohibited from recovering compensation in an injury claim.
Reach Out for Help with Your Claim
Damage caps are a complex aspect of medical malpractice cases. The lawyers at the Lynch Law Firm are available to discuss this information in more detail during a free, no-obligation consultation.
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