SENATE, No. 1844

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 10, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOSEPH M. KYRILLOS, JR.

District 13 (Middlesex and Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes limits for certain damages in medical malpractice actions.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act establishing limits for certain damages in medical malpractice actions.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  Except as provided in subsections b. and c. of this section, in any action for damages alleging medical malpractice by or against a health care provider, the total amount of damages for noneconomic loss recoverable by a plaintiff in which the negligence of a defendant or defendants, jointly and severally, is found to be the proximate cause of an injury, shall not exceed $100,000 or three times the amount of economic loss, whichever is less.

     b.    Recovery for noneconomic loss shall not exceed $500,000 or three times the amount of economic loss, whichever is less, in any action in which the negligence of a defendant or defendants, jointly and severally, is found to be the proximate cause of:

     (1)   severe chronic and permanent disability which is expected to give rise to a long-term need for specialized health, social and other services and which makes the person with the disability dependent upon others for assistance to secure those services; or

     (2)   an injury resulting in blindness, permanent loss of a significant bodily function or system; or

     (3)   loss of a body member, significant and permanent malformation, significant scarring, or significant and permanent disfigurement that cannot be substantially remediated by medical or surgical treatment; or

     (4)   any degree of permanent paralysis other than hemiplegia, paraplegia or quadriplegia; or

     (5)   there has been permanent loss of or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate.

     c.     Recovery for noneconomic loss shall not exceed $750,000 or three times the amount of economic loss, whichever is less, in any action in which the negligence of a defendant or defendants, jointly and severally, is found to be the proximate cause of:

     (1)   the plaintiff being rendered hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic; or

     (2)   the total and permanent functional loss of one or more limbs caused by injury to the brain or injury to the spinal cord, or both; or

     (3)   the plaintiff has permanently and significantly impaired cognitive capacity rendering him incapable of making independent, responsible life decisions and permanently incapable of independently performing the activities of normal, daily living; or

     (4)   death.

 

     2.    Neither an insurer writing medical malpractice insurance, nor a person insured under a policy of medical malpractice insurance shall be liable for the payment of any damages for noneconomic loss in excess of the amounts provided for in section 1 of this act.  Upon payment by the insurer for a jury award or a post-jury award settlement for economic loss and for non-economic loss, subject to the provisions of this section, up to the limit of the policy, the insurer and the health care provider  shall be deemed to have discharged their full respective financial liability to the plaintiff, and any other civil action in connection with the claim or demand leading to the award or post-jury award settlement shall be barred.

 

     3.    a.  Every claim or demand filed against an insured for damages alleging medical malpractice shall document the economic loss for which relief is sought and shall set forth in detail the economic loss incurred at the time of the filing of the claim, at the time the case is subject to any dispute resolution proceeding, at the time settlement negotiations are entered into and at any time thereafter as the court may determine prior to the time the case is tried, as well as a detailed statement of claimed prospective economic loss for which relief is sought.

     b.    In the event of a trial, the trier of fact shall determine the amount of economic and noneconomic damages to be awarded, and shall not be informed of any limitation on damages provided for in this act.  Upon receiving the determination of the jury, the court shall apportion the damages to be awarded in accordance with the provisions of sections 1 and 2 of this act.

 

     4.    This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to causes of action arising on or after that date.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes limits on noneconomic loss for damages received in a medical malpractice action based upon newly defined categories concerning the nature and seriousness of the underlying injury.

     In any action for damages alleging medical malpractice by or against a health care provider, the total amount of damages for noneconomic loss recoverable by a plaintiff in which the negligence of a defendant or defendants, jointly and severally, is found to be the proximate cause of an injury, shall not exceed $100,000 or three times the amount of economic loss, whichever is less.  Recovery for noneconomic loss shall not exceed $500,000 or three times the amount of economic loss, whichever is less if, in any action in which the negligence of a defendant or defendants, jointly and severally, is found to be the proximate cause of:

     (a)   severe chronic and permanent disability which is expected to give rise to a long-term need for specialized health, social, and other services and which makes the person with such a disability dependent upon others for assistance to secure those services; or

     (b)   an injury resulting in blindness, permanent loss of a significant bodily function or system; or

     (c)   loss of a body member, significant and permanent malformation, significant scarring, or significant and permanent disfigurement that cannot be substantially remediated by medical or surgical treatment; or

     (d)   any degree of permanent paralysis other than paraplegia or quadriplegia; or

     (e)   there has been permanent loss of or damage to a reproductive organ resulting in the inability to procreate.

     Recovery for noneconomic loss shall not exceed $750,000 or three times the amount of economic loss, whichever is less for any action in which the negligence of a defendant or defendants, jointly and severally, is found to be the proximate cause of:

     (a)   the plaintiff being rendered hemiplegic, paraplegic, or quadriplegic; or

     (b)   the total and permanent functional loss of one or more limbs caused by injury to the brain or injury to the spinal cord, or both; or

     (c)   the plaintiff has permanently and significantly impaired cognitive capacity rendering him incapable of making independent, responsible life decisions and permanently incapable of independently performing the activities of normal, daily living, or

     (d)   death.

     Under the bill, no insurer writing medical malpractice insurance and no person insured under a policy of medical malpractice insurance will be liable for the payment of any damages for noneconomic loss in excess of the amounts provided for in the bill.