Andrew Rubin, Esq.

Understanding Possible Changes to New Jersey Malpractice Law

It’s not your responsibility to know everything. That’s what professionals like dentists, CPAs and — of course — lawyers are for.

However, because of the need for these professionals it is important that the people working in these industries take care to do their jobs properly and ethically. If they do not meet that standard, they are then open to a malpractice lawsuit. New Jersey legislature is considering bill A-1982, which would make two important updates to the legal codes surrounding malpractice.

What these changes would mean

As outlined in the article, the purpose of these changes is to address the points unique to New Jersey that make malpractice suits more likely. The changes being discussed are:

  • A move to reduce the statute of limitations for malpractice suits to two years. The current limit is six years.
  • Eliminate fee shifting. Fee shifting is a common practice where the losing party is responsible for the winner's legal fees.

By shortening the statute of limitations, the time to discover an injury, hire a lawyer and prepare a case would be cut by a third. In eliminating fee shifting, the proposed law would simultaneously discourage individuals in need while encouraging frivolous lawsuits. This happens because:

  • Those who lack the means to pay for a lawyer rely on fee shifting to cover their representation.
  • Fee shifting is often a protection against specious lawsuits, due to the prospect of having to pay the winning sides legal fees.

Malpractice lawsuits are a tool for the consumer

Legal malpractice suits are one of the few measures the consumers can use to protect themselves if they’ve been wronged by a professional. By making it more difficult to bring a suit, New Jersey’s consumer protections become that much weaker.

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