In the future, that is from August 22, 2011 and on, all doctors who are defendants in medical malpractice cases in New Jersey must include in his/her filed Answer the medical specialty he/she was practicing at the time care was provided to the plaintiff. This will limit any confusion that may exist with respect to what type of practitioner a plaintiff must serve an Affidavit of Merit from for each named defendant.
In almost all medical malpractice cases, a plaintiff must serve an Affidavit of Merit from a physician in the same field as the defendant(s) that “there exists a reasonable probability that” the defendant(s) treatment “fell outside acceptable professional standards.” If such an Affidavit is timely supplied, the plaintiff’s case will be dismissed. To limit the number of motions to dismiss for failure to comply with the New Jersey Affidavit of Merit statute, the Supreme Court in Ferreira v. Rancocas Orthopedic Assocs., 178 NJ 144 (2003) required that the Trial Court, in all medical malpractice cases, hold a conference within 90 days of a defendant’s filing an Answer to determine if there are any objections to a plaintiff’s Affidavit of Merit. If the Court found a plaintiff’s Affidavit deficient, the plaintiff would have until the end of the statutory 120 day period to serve a proper Affidavit. The reasoning for the conference by the Ferreira Court was that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Read the rest »