On Monday, April 27, the New Jersey Supreme Court is holding oral arguments in an interesting medical malpractice case. The court’s ruling in this case will signal how serious the state is about stamping out fraud and corruption, and has the potential to dramatically impact malpractice insurance premiums. Continue reading
On February 18, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued opinions in two cases that had the potential to dramatically re-shape the state’s insurance law. The court resolved both cases on limited grounds that upheld pre-existing expectations while clarifying the law prospectively, as NJCJI urged it to do in an amicus brief. The court also directed the Civil Practice Committee to take up broader policy questions for further study. Continue reading
David Swerdlow, a partner at Windels Marx, was the featured speaker during the New Jersey Civil Justice Institute’s September 11, 2014 teleforum on two insurance law cases the New Jersey Supreme Court held oral arguments on earlier this week. During the call, Swerdlow, who authored NJCJI’s amicus brief in one of the cases, explained that the court could use these cases as an opportunity to dramatically reshape the state’s “bad faith” insurance law.
The New Jersey Supreme Court will convene its 2014-15 term on September 8. As the state’s highest judicial body, the decisions of the New Jersey Supreme Court have a direct and significant impact on individuals residing in the state and organizations located or doing business here. The New Jersey Civil Justice Institute is closely following the work of the court this term, as we have several cases pending before it. Continue reading
A selection of the need-to-know civil justice news for the week of Aug. 16-22. Continue reading
A majority of New Jersey’s small business owners want the Legislature to address legal reform, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton survey. Continue reading
There was a time when auto insurance premiums topped New Jerseyans’ list of complaints about life in the Garden State. Today, a decade after comprehensive reform, it doesn’t crack the top ten.
Noting the growth of NJCJI and our affiliates since our inception in 2007, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald suggested legal reform could follow a similar course in New Jersey.
New Jersey’s small businesses, particularly those located in Southern New Jersey, have experienced increased financial strain from rising liability insurance over the past few years. Municipal governments are also feeling the effect of an overheated culture of litigation. Irrespective of the merits or outcome, taxpayers foot the bill when a lawsuit is filed against local governments. It’s not exactly the kind of investment one hopes for with his or her property tax bill.
Click here for a list of active, bipartisan legislation which can improve New Jersey’s civil justice climate for taxpayers, businesses of all sizes, and the medical community and their patients.
Superstorm Sandy did something few insurance brokers could do: it forced homeowners to, in some cases, read their insurance policies for the first time.
Many of us opt for lower premiums in exchange for higher deductibles. Others quickly sign on the dotted line and hope we never meet the devil lurking in the details. But when the worst happens, as many New Jerseyans experienced late last year, customers expect their insurer to cover their losses as defined in their coverage.
New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co. (NJM) CEO Bernie Flynn told a legislative committee last month that they expect payouts to reach $300 million. State Farm has made a point of expediting their 30,000 Sandy-related claims. On some occasions, however, an insurer may fail to live up to their end of the agreement and deny payment to a customer. New Jersey consumers are able to file suit against their insurer in these instances. But recently reintroduced legislation threatens to add more bureaucracy and litigation into an already stressed civil justice system.
S-2460, the covertly dubbed “Consumer Protection Act of 2012,” is a new lease on trial lawyers’ attempt to create a new cause of action for ‘bad faith’ (S-766/A-3434). It wouldn’t simply codify existing case law with respect to ‘bad faith;’ rather, a court would only need to find that an insurer acted ‘unreasonably’ in order to win a bad faith case, adding subjectivity and the potential for awards beyond one’s coverage.
Acting Department of Banking and Insurance commissioner Kenneth Kobylowski noted that New Jersey’s strong homeowners’ insurance market had rates near the national average despite having property values among the highest in the country.
“To have average premiums in the middle of the marketplace is just a testament to how stable, how competitive and how well-run our homeowners’ market is,” he told NJ BIZ.
But if the cost of doing business increases for New Jersey’s insurance industry, we can all expect our premiums to rise.
The Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee is scheduled to hear A-1831 on Thursday, marking an important step toward addressing deep concerns about the cost of liability insurance within the medical community.
Sponsored by Chairman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), A-1831 would prevent insurance carriers from raising liability premiums based on a claim of medical practice, unless the physician is found liable in court, and would prohibit insurers from increasing liability premiums in certain charitable or emergency situations.
This legislation would also provide civil immunity to healthcare professionals who volunteer their services in good faith. Civil immunity would be available to volunteer healthcare professionals who do not have an active provider-patient at the time of the emergency. As our population outpaces the number of physicians we need to adequately care for the health of New Jersey residents, volunteer healthcare professionals will become increasingly important. By offering civil immunity to these volunteer medical personnel, A-1831 takes a step toward addressing our New Jersey’s public health needs.
Practicing specialized medicine in New Jersey is comparatively difficult for recent medical school graduates. In addition to their student loans, new doctors must bear New Jersey’s high cost of liability insurance premiums. Specialties which carry some of the highest premiums, including obstetrics and gynecology, disproportionately impact New Jersey women. It is no longer cost effective for many existing OBGYNs in New Jersey to deliver babies, and many have stopped doing so altogether. It’s not just a matter of addressing a significant healthcare cost-driver; it’s also about ensuring that New Jersey residents – especially women – have access to medical care.
The hearing will take place at 10 a.m. in committee room 16.
In our ongoing quest to keep good doctors practicing in New Jersey, NJCJI supported A-1831 before the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, which advanced it with bipartisan support.
If enacted, A-1831 would help lower liability insurance premiums, which is frequently cited as a key reason for New Jersey’s so-called medical brain drain. Insurance premiums begin to increase the moment a lawsuit is filed. This bill would prevent insurance carriers from raising liability premiums based on a claim of medical practice, unless the physician is found liable in court. It would also prohibit insurers from increasing liability premiums in certain charitable or emergency situations.
A-1831 is an important first step to help reverse the public crisis of doctors fleeing our state, which is expected to worsen significantly in the next few years.
Practicing specialized medicine in New Jersey is comparatively difficult for recent medical school graduates. In addition to their student loans, new doctors must bear New Jersey’s high cost of liability insurance premiums. Specialties which carry some of the highest premiums, including obstetrics and gynecology, disproportionately impact New Jersey women. It is no longer cost effective for many existing OBGYNs in New Jersey to deliver babies, and many have stopped doing so altogether.
We thank the committee and Chairman Conaway for their advancement of this measure.