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NJ Supreme Court rules on doctor's lack of insurance


An interesting medical malpractice claim made it all the way to New Jersey's Supreme Court last week. The claim was against a New Jersey doctor who, among other complaints, was not insured with medical malpractice insurance at the time of a negligent surgery. The surgery in question had already been settled for the incident that injured a patient. The counter suit was filed for the above reasons and sought further damages.

Unfortunately, the judge denied the claim set out by the injured patient and his family. However, the judge did have an explanation for his rejection that could leave the responsibility on another party entirely. This is because the state requires doctors to get insurance or a "letter of credit" affirming that they have enough assets to pay for any potential medical malpractice damages, the court said. Enforcement, however, is up to the Board of Medical Examiners.

"A health care facility that grants privileges to physicians to use its facility has a continuing duty to ensure that any physician granted privileges maintains the required insurance," Judge Mary Catherine Cuff wrote for the court. Therefore, hospitals and medical facilities are required to make sure that doctors operating inside their institutions have the proper credentials and insurance. As a result, the court has now left the door open for the couple to look into holding the hospital that employed the doctor accountable. This will be a separate lawsuit from the one being discussed here.

While the injured individual's legal matters have not quite come to a close, it does show promise of being more lucrative for the couple in question. Additional cases following the Supreme Court's ruling could help pave the way for medical malpractice victims to recover additional compensation from hospitals and medical institutions. However, it is important to remember that medical malpractice claims can have many angles, all of which have not quite been explored here. Thus, those who are victimized by medical malpractice may want to consider discussing the matter with an attorney who can help the victim fully assess the situation.

Source: The Record, "N.J. Supreme Court Sides with doctor on malpractice," Salvador Rizzo, Sep. 30, 2015

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