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All Press Releases for January 10, 2014 »
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Is failure to disclose lack of malpractice coverage fraud in New Jersey?

A new case could have important implications for other medical malpractice lawsuits in New Jersey.
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    January 10, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- For thousands of Americans every year, medical malpractice results in serious injuries and even death. By taking legal action, patients harmed by medical malpractice, or the families of patients who are killed by medical malpractice, can hold negligent medical providers responsible for monetary damages.

Of course, in order for victims of medical malpractice to receive the compensation to which they are legally entitled, there must be financial resources available. Most medical providers carry medical malpractice insurance. If a doctor is sued for medical malpractice, the insurance provider should pay to cover all or some of the costs of any resulting judgment.

In fact, New Jersey law requires physicians to carry medical malpractice liability insurance policies that cover at least $1 million in damages per occurrence or $3 million per policy. If coverage is not available, physicians responsible for patient care must have a letter of credit for a minimum of $500,000.

Despite the law, some medical providers still do not carry medical malpractice insurance. If a doctor is not insured, and does not inform a patient of that fact, does it constitute fraud? That is the question the Supreme Court of New Jersey will try to answer in the pending case Jarrell v. Kaul.

Case stems from an incorrectly performed spinal surgery

The case was certified to the Supreme Court of New Jersey on Nov. 19, 2013. The underlying incident involved a botched spinal surgery.

The trial court in the case found "overwhelming" evidence of negligence on the part of Dr. Richard Kaul in performing the spinal surgery. The doctor had purportedly damaged James Jarrell's nerves in the course of a spinal fusion procedure when he improperly placed screws in the patient's back.

A jury awarded Jarrell $500,000 for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and disability. A sum of $250,000 was also awarded for loss of consortium to Jarrell's wife. Finally, $188,000 was added by the trial court to cover medical expenses.

Earlier in 2013, the Appellate Division upheld the judgment. But, there was just one problem: Dr. Kaul did not carry the required malpractice insurance, and he did not divulge this to Jarrell before the procedure.

In addition to the claims that were upheld on appeal, Jarrell asked the appellate court to reinstate his claims of lack of informed consent, deceit, misrepresentation and battery for Kaul's failure to disclose the fact that he did not have malpractice insurance coverage to perform spine surgery. However, the New Jersey Appeals Court declined to do so.

Now, the Supreme Court of New Jersey will take on the question of whether a doctor's failure to inform a patient about a lack of malpractice insurance coverage constitutes actionable fraud. The results of the Supreme Court decision could have broad implications for medical malpractice plaintiffs who find themselves in similar situations in the future.

Harmed by a health care provider's negligence? Contact a New Jersey medical malpractice attorney

Like the plaintiffs in Jarrell v. Kaul, if you have been harmed by the negligence of a medical practitioner, you may be able to recover monetary compensation by taking legal action. The outcome of Jarrell v. Kaul at the Supreme Court level could even create a new cause of action for some plaintiffs. Get in touch with a medical malpractice attorney today, and get the compensation you deserve from negligent doctors, nurses or any other type of health care provider that caused you harm.

Article provided by Kirsch Gartenberg & Howard
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