New Mexico patients who have been the victims of medical malpractice may be interested to know that in September 2015, the New Jersey Supreme Court made a ruling that could establish an important precedent. The court decided that doctors who aren’t covered by malpractice insurance ought to be punished by the medical boards in their state instead of by courts. The ruling held that victims could bring legal action against medical facilities that couldn’t prove they tried to verify their doctors had insurance coverage or credit lines, but they could not successfully recover damages on the basis that the doctor was uninsured.
The New Jersey case revolved around a 2005 incident where a man who sustained a spinal injury underwent a fusion procedure. The anesthesiologist who did the work accidentally put screws in the patient’s foot. This mistake led to a pinched nerve which later made the man fall due to the heightened pain.
The man initially filed a lawsuit against the care provider and the facility he worked at on grounds of negligence. The suit also included allegations of misrepresentation because the anesthesiologist didn’t disclose that he wasn’t insured for the spinal procedure, but these claims were thrown out by both a trial court and the higher court, which maintained that the state medical board should be responsible for sanctioning uninsured physicians. The victim won $750,000 in damages for the medical negligence claim.
The outcome of doctor negligence litigation depends on whether it can be demonstrated that the actions of the practitioner fell below the required standard of care. An attorney for an injured victiim can often demonstrate this through a review of the patient’s records and the use of opinions of medical experts.