New Jersey Hospital Negligence Attorneys
Around 85,000 people file medical malpractice cases each year. While the vast majority of these cases are filed against doctors, other medical professionals and the facilities they work in should also be held accountable when their negligence causes an injury. At Nagel Rice LLP, we work hard to make sure that any person or organization that harmed our clients is brought to justice. We frequently sue hospitals for the harm their negligence caused our clients.
Holding Hospitals Responsible
There are a few different ways a New Jersey hospital can be held responsible for the poor medical care that occurred inside its doors.
First, a hospital, like any employer, may be held liable if its employees acted negligently. Negligent care is care that causes harm that would not have occurred if the patient had been treated competently. Just because you are unhappy with the treatment you received, or the results of that treatment, does not mean you were treated negligently.
Nurses, lab technicians, and support staff are typically hospital employees, so if they acted negligently, the hospital may be on the hook. Doctors, however, rarely work directly for a hospital; most are independent contractors. It is difficult to hold hospitals accountable for the work of independent contractors. This is one of the reasons doctors and hospitals avoid forming employee-employer relationships.
In order to determine if the hospital can be held liable for the doctor’s actions, it is necessary to examine the relationship between the doctor and the hospital. A lot of the time the paperwork filled out when someone is admitted to the hospital will specify whether the doctor is a hospital employee or an independent contractor. It the paperwork does not say that the doctor is an independent contractor, it can generally be assumed that he or she is an employee. This paperwork is often the controlling factor in determining what the doctor-hospital relationship is, but it is not the only thing that courts consider when determining liability in a medical malpractice case.
Sometimes courts will hold hospitals liable if they treated the doctor like an employee even though they now claim that the doctor was an independent contractor. If the doctor’s hours, fees, and working conditions were set by the hospital, a court might rule that the hospital was acting as an employer.
Courts may also ignore paperwork specifying that a doctor is an independent contractor if the injury occured in the emergency room. Patients visiting the ER are often too ill to fill out typical hospital admittance forms, so they have no notice that the doctors treating them are not hospital employees. This, combined with the fact that most people think doctors are employees, can persuade the courts to treat a doctor as if he or she were an employee and hold the hospital liable.
It may also not matter what relationship the hospital claims to have with a doctor if the doctor was dangerously incompetent. Hospitals can be held responsible for giving staff privileges to a doctor they knew, or should have known, was acting negligently. In these cases it is necessary to dig into the doctor-hospital relationship to determine what sort of oversight the hospital had over the doctor. Hospitals should be screening their employers and contractors and evaluating their work to make sure all of their workers are acting appropriately. If the hospital neglected its responsibility to ensure the people who worked on their premises were competent, it may be liable for the resulting patient injuries.
Don’t Wait to File a Hospital Negligence Claim
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice is 2 years from the date the injury is,or should have been, discovered. This is not much time, so if you think you or a loved one was the victim of medical malpractice you should seek medical attention and talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
Waiting too long to file your case will bar you from recovering anything for your injuries, no matter how serious they are.
What Compensation Is Available in Hospital Negligence Claims?
It is impossible to put a price tag on good health, or compensate you for your loss of confidence in the medical system, but if you have suffered an injury due to medical malpractice the legal system will attempt to make you whole again and put you in the financial position you would have been in if you had never suffered the injury. The medical professionals who injured you and the hospital they work for may be required to compensate you for:
- Medical, hospital and rehabilitative costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Permanent disability
If the medical error made in the ER was particularly awful — involving, for example, malicious or illegal activity or resulting in permanent disfigurement or death — Nagel Rice will also fight vigorously to win punitive damages for you. Punitive damages are awarded both as a means of punishing the defendant for egregious behavior and as a deterrent to others who might be tempted to engage in similar reckless misconduct.
The sooner you speak to an attorney about your case, the sooner the evidence necessary to get you the compensation you deserve can be gathered. In medical malpractice cases, it is critical to act before relevant documents are lost or destroyed, and before memories fade.
Contact An Experienced Hospital Malpractice Attorney Today
At Nagel Rice LLP we believe that actions have consequences. Anyone who causes harm to another should be brought to justice. Hospitals, like individuals, should not be able to shirk responsibility for any negligent care provided on their premises since they have a duty to oversee all hospital care.
If you suffered an injury at a hospital and would like to see that hospital held responsible, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.