If your child suffered a birth injury and you are considering filing a claim for medical malpractice in New Jersey, it is important to be aware of certain statutory rules that may affect your case. Perhaps you are unsure of how long you have to file a birth injury claim, known as the “statute of limitations.” If you are coping with the costs of your child’s long-term care, you may be wondering if there is a limit on the amount of compensation you can recover from negligent medical professionals and facilities. As the parent or caregiver for a child with cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy, brain damage, or another birth injury related condition, the questions abound. The following explains some of the most important limits and deadlines that may influence your potential claim for birth malpractice. To discuss your specific case with a knowledgeable birth injury attorney in New Jersey, contact us today at 866-708-8617 or fill out our online form to request a free consultation.
How Long do I have to File a Birth Injury Claim in New Jersey?
The “statute of limitations” refers to the amount of time allotted to a plaintiff when bringing a claim for medical malpractice. New Jersey, like other states, has established a unique set of rules regarding its statute of limitations, with a variety of factors that may extend these general rules. Under New Jersey law, specifically section 2A:14-2, a lawsuit for medical malpractice must be filed within two years of the date that the injury occurred, or two years from the date upon which the plaintiff became aware, or reasonably could have become aware, that an injury was present. The state provides victims of medical malpractice with an exception to the general two-year statute of limitations rule, as some patients do not experience symptoms, receive a diagnosis, or discover that a negligent healthcare provider was responsible for their condition until more than two years have passed since the initial event.
The other major exception to the two-year time limit for malpractice applies to minors under the age of 18. If a child experiences a birth injury resulting from medical malpractice in New Jersey, the child’s parents or legal guardians have until the child’s 13th birthday to file a lawsuit. Other minors who are victims of malpractice during childhood are not subject to the two-year statute of limitations until they reach the age of 18. The law recognizes the necessity for these extensions, as parents and guardians are often unaware of conditions associated with birth injuries until their child begins to grow, interact socially, and/or miss developmental milestones.
Is there a Limit on Payouts for Birth Injuries Caused by Malpractice in NJ?
The term “damages cap” is used to describe an imposed limit on the potential compensation that can be recovered by a victim when bringing an injury claim. While other states have enacted laws to limit the amount of money that a plaintiff can recover, New Jersey has relatively open rules as it relates to recoveries for medical malpractice. In order to understand New Jersey’s rules on compensation, it is first important to explain the various types of available damages.
There are three distinct types of damages open to a victim in a birth injury case. Compensatory damages are intended to “compensate” the victim for medical expenses and other financial losses associated with their injuries. These damages are also known as known as economic damages. Conversely, non-economic damages address the further consequences of the victim’s injuries, including pain and suffering and other abstract, yet equally consequential losses. There is no limit on economic or non-economic damages for New Jersey malpractice claims involving birth injuries.
The only cap on damages in New Jersey applies to punitive damages, which are imposed in certain cases to punish healthcare providers for extreme recklessness or malicious conduct resulting in injury. The limit on punitive damages is $350,000 or five times the amount of compensatory damages, whichever is greater.
How do NJ Malpractice Laws Apply to my Birth Injury Case?
If someone you love has been harmed by negligent medical care at birth, you should seek help from an experienced New Jersey birth injury attorney who can address the rules and statutory limits that may apply to your case. Our team is here to assist you anytime, so please feel free to call 866-708-8617 to discuss your potential birth injury claim.