SENATE, No. 2770

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED MAY 20, 2013

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOSEPH PENNACCHIO

District 26 (Essex, Morris and Passaic)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Provides certain homestead exemption in medical malpractice judgments; prohibits insurers from raising medical malpractice liability insurance premiums under certain circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act concerning medical malpractice, supplementing Title 17 of the Revised Statutes, and amending P.L.2004, c.17.

 

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

 

     1.    (New section) As used in this act:

     "Condominium" means the form of real property ownership provided for under the "Condominium Act," P.L.1969, c.257 (C.46:8B-1 et seq.).

     "Dwelling house" means any residential property assessed as real property but shall not include a unit in a condominium or a horizontal property regime.

     "Homestead" means:

     (1)   a dwelling house and the land on which that dwelling house is located which constitutes the place of the owner's domicile and is owned and used by the owner as the owner's principal residence;

     (2)   a condominium unit or a unit in a horizontal property regime which constitutes the place of the owner's domicile and is owned and used by the owner as the owner's principal residence; or

     (3)   a manufactured home as defined in section 2 of P.L.1990, c.61 (C.54:4-8.58).

     "Horizontal property regime" means the form of real property ownership provided for under the "Horizontal Property Act," P.L.1963, c.168 (C.46:8A-1 et seq.).

     "Judgment debtor" means a health care provider who, as a defendant in an action brought for medical malpractice, is required to pay the claimant an award that is subject to the provisions of this section.

     "Owner" means a person possessing legal or equitable title to a homestead.

     "Principal residence" means a homestead occupied by the owner as the owner's permanent residence, as distinguished from a vacation home, property owned and rented or offered for rent by the owner, and other secondary real property holdings.

 

     2.    (New section) a.  Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, in any judgment resulting from a civil action brought by a claimant for medical malpractice, the judgment debtor may hold a homestead exempt from attachment, execution, and forced sale.  The homestead exemption shall not exceed $1,000,000, which amount shall be adjusted annually by the court rendering judgment, in accordance with changes in the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers in the New York City and the Philadelphia areas as reported by the United States Department of Labor, using the year of the effective date of this act as its base year.

     b.    The homestead exemption automatically attaches to the owner's interest in identifiable cash proceeds from the voluntary or involuntary sale of the homestead.  The homestead exemption in identifiable cash proceeds continues for 18 months after the date of the sale of the homestead or until the person establishes a new homestead with the proceeds, whichever period is shorter.  Only one homestead exemption at a time may be held by an owner under this act.

     c.     A person who is entitled to a homestead exemption holds that exemption by operation of law and no written claim or recording is required.

 

     3.    Section 17 of P.L.2004, c.17 (C.17:30D-22) is amended to read as follows:

     17.  Notwithstanding any other law or regulation to the contrary, an insurer authorized to transact medical malpractice liability insurance in this State shall not increase the premium of any medical malpractice liability insurance policy based on a claim of medical negligence or malpractice against the insured [if the insured is dismissed from an action alleging medical malpractice] within [180] 360 days of the filing of the [last responsive pleading] claim against the insured.

(cf: P.L.2004, c.17, s.17)

 

     4.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill allows a health care provider to hold a homestead, as defined in the bill, exempt from attachment, execution, and forced sale in any judgment resulting from a medical malpractice action brought by a claimant for medical malpractice.  The homestead exemption shall not exceed $1,000,000, which amount shall be adjusted annually by the court rendering judgment, in accordance with changes in the Consumer Price Index, using the year of the effective date of the bill as its base year.

     Under the bill, the homestead exemption automatically attaches to the owner's interest in identifiable cash proceeds from the voluntary or involuntary sale of the property and is exempt from attachment, execution and forced sale.  The homestead exemption continues for 18 months from the sale of the property, or until the person establishes a new homestead with the proceeds, whichever period is shorter.  The exemption arises by operation of law and no written claim or recording is required.


     This bill also provides that an insurer shall not increase the premium of any medical malpractice liability insurance policy based on a claim of medical negligence or malpractice against an insured within 360 days of the filing of the claim against the insured.