STATE OF NEW JERSEY
PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION
Senator SAMUEL D. THOMPSON
District 12 (Burlington, Middlesex, Monmouth and Ocean)
Reduces statute of limitations for medical malpractice liability actions to four years.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel
An Act limiting certain actions for professional negligence and amending N.J.S.2A:14-2.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. N.J.S. 2A:14-2 is amended to read as follows:
2A:14-2. a. Every action at law for an injury to the person caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of any person within this state shall be commenced within 2 years next after the cause of any such action shall have accrued.
b. With respect to an action against a health care provider for professional negligence, the cause of action shall be deemed to accrue at the time the injury is first discovered or in the exercise of reasonable care should have been discovered, but in any case, the action shall be commenced within four years from the date on which the alleged professional negligence is said to have occurred or, in an action commenced by or on behalf of a minor, four years from the date on which the alleged professional negligence is said to have occurred or after the minor attains the age of 20 years, whichever is later.
For purposes of this subsection:
"Health care provider" means any person licensed in this State to practice medicine and surgery, chiropractic, podiatry, dentistry, optometry, psychology, pharmacy, nursing, physical therapy or as a bioanalytical laboratory director or hospital.
"Professional negligence" means a negligent act or omission to act by a health care provider in the rendering of professional services, which act or omission is the proximate cause of a personal injury or wrongful death, provided that those services are within the scope of services for which the health care provider is licensed and which are not within any restriction imposed by the licensing board or licensed hospital.
2. This act shall take effect immediately and apply to all actions accruing on or after the effective date.
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions is two years. However, under the discovery rule, the statute is tolled and does not begin to run until the plaintiff knew or, through the exercise of reasonable due diligence should have known, of the injury. The result of this rule is that the tail for medical malpractice liability actions can be virtually infinite.
This bill limits the discovery rule and provides that medical malpractice liability actions must be filed within four years of the occurrence of the professional negligence.