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New Mexico Medical Malpractice
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By Jane Mundy
New Mexico medical malpractice claims may be brought against any healthcare professional or organization if the standard of care fails to meet an acceptable level. When a patient suffers harm as a result of such failure, a New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit may be filed against health care providers, including doctors, counselors, and psychotherapists, or institutions whose actions caused the harm. Medical Malpractice lawyers typically include claims of medical negligence in hospital malpractice complaints.
Medical negligence involves any situation where a healthcare professional conducts his or her job duties in a way that fails to meet an accepted medical standard of care. It is not enough that the healthcare professional makes a simple error or that the patient is unhappy with the treatment provided. In the state of New Mexico, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other healthcare professional or institution breaches a standard of care when treating a patient, which results in an injury or death.
New Mexico Medical Malpractice Claims
Patients who wish to make a medical malpractice claim must show:
Patients will likely be required to provide medical reports and diagnoses, testimony from experts, medical files and other related documents, and physical evidence to support their medical malpractice claims.
New Mexico Medical Malpractice lawsuits can be filed for a number of reasons, including:
Doctors at Johns Hopkins suggest that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer. After analyzing studies examining death rate information, they estimate at least 251,454 deaths due to medical errors annually in the US, not including medical errors in private homes and nursing homes. In 2008 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the inspector general reported 180,000 deaths by medical error among Medicare patients alone. But less than 20 percent of victims injured by medical malpractice in the US pursue claims for their injuries.
New Mexico Medical Malpractice Laws
When a plaintiff in New Mexico has made a successful case and the jury holds the defendant liable, the state caps non-economic damages—including pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, scarring, disfigurement, and similar losses stemming from the medical malpractice at $600,000. New Mexico law limits the total damages any one defendant must pay to $200,000, even if the total damages awarded to the plaintiff in the case is greater. If the total damages are greater than the limits placed on all defendants (which is $200,000 each), the balance is paid from New Mexico’s Patient Compensation Fund.
Economic damages include compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and other financial losses. Economic damages are not limited to a specific dollar amount, but New Mexico does limit the payment of future medical bills to amounts actually incurred. This means that, should an injured person need continual medical care, they can only receive damages for bills received rather than an amount based on future estimates of care.
New Mexico does not have an affidavit or certificate of merit requirement (a sworn statement from an expert witness that must accompany the initial medical malpractice complaint in some states). It does, however, require the use of medical expert testimony in nearly all medical malpractice cases.
Medical expert witness testimony must prove that a medical provider’s care fell below the generally-accepted standard of care, which defines negligence in medical malpractice cases. However, New Mexico does not impose any special restrictions on the testimony of expert witnesses in medical malpractice cases.
A New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed no later than three years from the date of an incident causing injury. In cases against state, county and local government, the statute of limitations is only 2 years. The shorter period applies under New Mexico‘s Tort Claims Act. For children who were under age six when the injury occurs, the time limit expires on the child’s ninth birthday. Applying the statute of limitations can be difficult as some cases factor the date when the injury becomes apparent, not necessarily the date it occurred.
New Mexico Statute of Limitations
Several variables have an impact on the time period for the statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims in New Mexico. These include; (1) the time that the claim is discovered, (2) whether the healthcare provider is a qualified healthcare provider under the Medical Malpractice Act, and (3) whether the healthcare provider is a public entity.
For example if an injury occurs during surgery (an instrument is left in a surgical cavity, for example) but the patient doesn’t experience any discomfort or pain until three years after that surgery, the statute of limitations begins from the date any symptoms are first noticed.
Find more information regarding New Mexico statutes and malpractice coverage at the New Mexico Legislature
In 2014 New Mexico court affirmed a $7.3 million medical malpractice verdict for MRSA infection following knee surgery. Besides suffering the infection, Lori Sandretto presented expert testimony that she might not have needed the knee replacement nor developed the chronic pain condition had her doctor handled the case differently.
New Mexico Medical Malpractice Lawsuits and Settlements
Also in 2014, a heart patient who alleged he was implanted with an unnecessary pacemaker was awarded $67.3 million.
In 2015 An Albuquerque jury found a doctor and an intensive care unit nurse guilty of negligence over the death of a mother from high blood pressure during the birth of her third child. The award totaled $3 million.
New Mexico Medical Malpractice Legal HelpIf you or a loved one has suffered similar damages or injuries, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to a lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
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