Medical error or negligence can and does result in death. In New Jersey, survivors of the deceased patient can recover against those responsible, which may include a doctor, such as a family doctor or specialist, or a hospital. For more information about a wrongful death claim in a medical malpractice lawsuit in New Jersey, click here for Part B of this article.
New Jersey's wrongful death statute, Section 2A:31-1 provides:
"When the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default, such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the person injured to maintain an action for damages resulting from the injury, the person who would have been liable in damages for the injury if death had not ensued shall be liable in an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured and although the death was caused under circumstances amounting in law to a crime."
In a medical malpractice situation, the wrongful death claim is brought against the negligent party - doctor, hospital, etc., and the basis of the claim is that the defendant's negligence caused the death of the patient.
Section 2A:31-3 provides:
"Every action brought under this chapter shall be commenced within 2 years after the death of the decedent, and not thereafter, provided, however, that if the death resulted from murder, aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter for which the defendant has been convicted, found not guilty by reason of insanity or adjudicated delinquent, the action may be brought at any time."
In most medical malpractice cases which result in death, the case must be filed within 2 years of the date of the death. There are some instances when a case may be filed beyond the two year deadline. However, statute of limitations questions are very time sensitive and complex, especially in the context of medical malpractice. Therefore, it is advisable to speak to a New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer with experience handling wrongful death claims immediately.
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