Stricter rules for experts in New Jersey malpractice cases

Following an April 25 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling, only doctors with the same specialties as those being sued will be able to participate in a court case as an expert witness. There have been mixed reactions regarding this ruling. On the one hand, insurance premiums have risen significantly due to the proliferation of medical malpractice cases. However, others say this ruling will make it harder for people with legitimate cases to file suit against doctors who have caused them harm.

The ruling came as a result of a court case in which a man who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning was treated with medication and 100 percent oxygen. This treatment resulted in injury to the man along with brain damage. An expert witness stated that the damage would have been less severe had the man been treated with 100 percent oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber. While the witness, an internist, was an expert in hyperbaric treatment, it was determined by the court that he should not have testified because his credentials were different than those of the doctors administering treatment.

While this ruling may cut down on the number of illegitimate cases brought before the court, it could also make it much harder for people who have valid claims to bring their cases to court. If a medical expert with matching credentials cannot be found, people may not be able to sue a negligent doctor and receive much-needed compensation.

If someone has been harmed by a doctor's negligence, he or she may be owed compensation for medical bills and lost wages. An attorney may evaluate the individual's case and locate a professional with suitable credentials to testify as an expert witness on his or her behalf.