Determining a Medical Malpractice Settlement Amount in NJ

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Determining a Medical Malpractice Settlement Amount in NJ

Medical malpractice can occur in a myriad of ways. The fundamental premise in these cases involves physicians, hospitals, medical facilities, or other healthcare professionals providing substandard care that causes victims injuries. Typically, physicians, nurses, lab technicians, and other healthcare staff make unacceptable errors regarding diagnosis, laboratory test results, surgery, medication, aftercare, hospital (or other medical facility) discharge, and omissions or inaction, leading to delayed diagnosis and treatment or further complications. Just as there are many different ways that medical malpractice happens, there are many complex factors that play a role in determining the amount of a medical malpractice settlement. Here, we explore the numerous elements that must be taken into account when calculating medical malpractice settlements, as well as the invaluable advocacy of a skilled medical malpractice attorney when negotiating a settlement in your case.

The Basics of Medical Malpractice Settlements

An injured individual typically pursues a medical malpractice claim when medical malpractice occurs. Then, their case may be resolved in one of two ways: via a negotiated settlement or a litigated damages award after a trial. A settlement is an agreement between the plaintiff seeking total compensation for their injury-induced losses, like medical expenses, wage losses, and pain and suffering, and the defendant’s attorneys or insurance company, who are always seeking to keep these payouts as low as possible. A medical malpractice attorney is crucial to negotiating for the highest possible settlement for injuries, as your lawyer can use their knowledge of the law and experience handling these negotiations to ensure that you do not receive or accept a settlement of lesser value than you deserve.

When the parties reach a settlement, there is no need for a trial. However, a settlement occurs only when the parties agree on the damages amount. During a trial, the jury must determine damages, a compensation award that appropriately covers the plaintiff’s losses. In a settlement, the medical professional does not typically admit to negligence but can still pay damages to avoid an expensive and time-consuming trial.

What a Settlement for Medical Negligence Covers

The settlement covers the financial expenses that a plaintiff incurs past, present, and future, as well as other financial, physical, and psychological damages. As a general rule of thumb, the more detrimental the changes and losses to an injured victim, the higher the settlement amount will likely be. In sum, an injured party calculating a settlement amount to cover economic and non-economic losses should consider the increased medical costs due to the malpractice, lifestyle changes and modifications due to the malpractice, the missed work and income loss due to the injury and care, the pain and suffering endured, and other tangible and intangible losses incurred due to the harm caused.

Aside from medical cost reimbursement for past medical expenses, you are also entitled to anticipate future costs for medical care and costs for in-home nursing care, medications, assistive devices (for hearing, seeing, breathing, mobility, etc.), and home modifications. You may also get lost wages in the past and future, pain and suffering compensation, and loss of life’s pleasures, including loss of consortium (loss of relationship benefits).

Specifically, an injured party should detail what they can no longer do or enjoy because of the injury, what they must do now, and how the injury has impacted them financially, personally, professionally, emotionally, and medically. The effects on someone’s relationships, particularly those no longer able to provide the level of care and companionship they once did to their partner or children, are also important to consider.

Significant Factors Affecting Medical Malpractice Payouts

The final sum of a medical malpractice settlement depends on multiple factors.

Nature of the Medical Negligence

The first of these factors involves the nature of the medical negligence that occurred. For example, when a surgeon leaves an instrument inside of a patient’s body, that is gross negligence. This is among the medical malpractice “never events.” The person may suffer harm to surrounding organs and tissues and experience extreme complications until such time as the instrument is identified and removed.

Gravity of the Injuries

The second important factor is the gravity of the person’s injuries resulting from medical malpractice. Depending on the nature of the medical error that occurs and the severity of harm caused, some physical damage may not be permanent. For example, corrective surgery may be possible, or a combination of medication, rehabilitative therapy, and other treatment may help a person to recover to some extent, if not entirely. However, a surgeon who accidentally severs a nearby nerve while performing surgery in a tight space may cause permanent damage when the surgical patient leaves the hospital with paralysis.

Necessary Future Medical Expenses

Another consideration influenced by the severity of the injury is how much future medical care the plaintiff may need. For instance, someone with paraplegia will have lifelong medical expenses, equipment costs, and home modifications like ramps and widened bathroom doors to accommodate wheelchairs. The settlement amount is higher for a severe injury that requires extensive, and even lifelong medical care.

Effects of the Injury on the Victim’s Life

The life changes impacting the injured person and their family due to the injury are also crucial to determining an accurate settlement value. Elements to consider, such as loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of companionship or consortium, are important. In addition, an injury that causes significant time off of work or even permanent disability leading to an inability to work altogether, significantly affects someone’s life (and their family’s life), financially and otherwise.

The Patient’s Age at the Time of the Injury

The patient’s age at the time of the medical malpractice-induced injuries is another vital factor when arriving at a settlement payout. For instance, for younger victims, injuries and their consequences could span 40 to 50 years or more. This is particularly relevant to children and newborns who suffer harm due to medical malpractice, often leading to a lifelong condition that permanently alters the course of their life. Even people in their 30s and 40s may live with the impacts of medical negligence for 40 or 50 years, sometimes longer depending on their age at the time of their death.

Extent of the Evidence Supporting the Claim

Since a settlement amount depends on proving each item supporting the settlement figure, the sufficiency of the evidence proving the claim is significant. So, the completeness of medical records and other evidence to demonstrate the total sum of damages is pivotal when maximizing a settlement amount. The quality of the medical expert testimony supporting a medical malpractice claim is also vital when presenting the most compelling case.

Every settlement component for which you request compensation must be supported by convincing evidence. That is where a talented medical malpractice attorney, such as ours at Fronzuto Law Group, plays a crucial role, since we know what compelling evidence is and is not, as well as how to gather and assemble it. We also know how to obtain documents from medical billing departments of hospitals and doctors’ offices, and to prepare medical expert testimony to prove negligence, the extent of injuries, and future medical needs. Another expert that we may hire for your case is an actuarial to calculate life expectancy or a life care planning expert to outline the total extent of your lifelong needs.

Legal Factors

Other relevant factors that affect the total settlement payout include the insurance coverage maximum for one or more defendants, state laws and regulations, and the quality of the plaintiff’s legal representation. Our attorneys are prepared and experienced in consulting with medical experts about medical procedures, obtaining and evaluating documentary evidence to support a medical malpractice claim, prompting you to detail your injury and its impact on your life and your family members’ lives, and aggressively negotiating with the defendant’s representatives to obtain the maximum compensation amount in your case.

Comparing New Jersey Medical Malpractice Settlements to Other States

In New Jersey, settlement payouts average just over $400,000, with a total of $215,000,000.00 in payouts in 2022. Along with New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Illinois among the highest in the country, New Jersey ranks fifth highest in medical malpractice payouts, according to Forbes’ “Medical Malpractice Statistics of 2024.”

Contact the Attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group for a Free Consultation

Hiring a New Jersey medical malpractice attorney with in-depth knowledge and experience is a must if you have been injured by medical malpractice and are interested in seeking compensation. If you suffered injuries from a negligent doctor, other medical professional, hospital, or other medical facility, contact our trusted medical malpractice lawyers at Fronzuto Law Group for a free consultation today. You can reach us by sending a message or calling 973-435-4551 to discuss your case.

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