Medical Lawyer Cases – Hospital Liability

MEDICAL LAWYER MUST CONSIDER TYPE OF HOSPITAL BEING SUED

DAMAGES ARE LIMITED IF HOSPITAL IS A NON-PROFIT. NO SUCH LIMIT APPLIES TO FOR-PROFIT FACILITIES.
A medical lawyer bringing a case against a hospital must consider the type of hospital involved. Is it a for-profit hospital? Is it a nonprofit? Or is it a charity?

You see, New Jersey limits liability for certain hospitals.

If the hospital is a charity, it can’t be sued at all. If the hospital is a nonprofit, organized exclusively to perform hospital services, the amount it can be sued for is limited. You cannot sue it for more than $250,000.

In contrast, a for-profit hospital has unlimited liability. A recent court case illustrates all this. The case involved a slip and fall accident.

Terry claimed that she slipped on an oily substance. This occurred at a hospital. Terry was injured. The hospital is a nonprofit.

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The hospital claimed that Terry was benefiting from its charity. She was attending a free eye screening. The New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired sponsored the screening. It took place on a Saturday. Volunteers staffed it.

The hospital argued that it was a charity, because a charitable service was being provided. It was not “exclusively” a hospital. Therefore, Terry couldn’t sue it.

The trial judge ruled for the hospital. Terry’s lawyer appealed. The appeals court also ruled against Terry. The lawyer then appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

The court reversed the lower courts’ rulings. Just because the hospital performed some charitable services, did not make it a charity. Part of being a hospital is providing free clinics.

Rather, the court ruled, the hospital was a nonprofit. Therefore, the hospital was responsible for up to $250,000 in damages.

The court made the right call.

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