Alamogordo Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you or a loved one suffered injuries from a preventable medical error, call the Alamogordo medical malpractice attorneys at The Fine Law Firm. Our firm will hold any doctors or medical professionals accountable for the harm their substandard medical care caused you or your family member.
The experienced attorneys at The Fine Law Firm are:
- Aggressive fighters for your legal rights;
- Well-versed and knowledgeable in both medical malpractice and personal injury law; and
- Trial-ready at all times.
Every client is different, and we are proud to offer you individualized attention and customized legal options. Call our office today to schedule a free claim evaluation with one of our Alamogordo medical malpractice attorneys. If you cannot travel to our office, one of our attorneys will come to you.
How Can an Alamogordo Medical Malpractice Attorney Help Me?
Victims of medical malpractice should never be left paying for the preventable mistakes of their medical providers. However, patients often have difficulties determining precisely what went wrong or who was at fault for their injuries. Medical malpractice attorneys work with medical and hospital records to determine what happened and who was responsible.
Additionally, medical malpractice attorneys, like ours at The Fine Law Firm, will:
- File your medical malpractice claim;
- Hire and consult any necessary medical and financial experts;
- Build your claim for medical, economic, and personal damages;
- Negotiate towards a fair and just settlement with any insurance companies;
- If necessary, draft and file a medical malpractice lawsuit on your behalf; and
- Reach a settlement or proceed to a trial before a judge and jury.
To learn more about the medical malpractice claims process, call The Fine Law Firm today. Our firm never charges upfront fees and only gets paid when we win your claim.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is treatment, or lack of treatment, by a medical professional that deviates from the accepted standards of care for a reasonably careful medical professional in a similar situation. The treatment or lack of treatment provided must cause injury to the patient.
Medical malpractice not only includes doctors or hospitals, but it can also occur anywhere patients receive treatment such as:
- Emergency rooms;
- Operating rooms;
- Doctor’s offices;
- Outpatient centers;
- Cosmetic surgery centers;
- Chiropractor’s offices; and
- Rehabilitation centers.
Any licensed health care practitioner or facility that fails to provide a proper amount of care to you as a patient could be held responsible for any related injury or illness that you suffer. You may be able to file a claim against more than one health care provider or hospital in Alamogordo, depending on the circumstances.
Medical Malpractice vs. Medical Negligence
While medical malpractice and medical negligence are often used interchangeably, malpractice means the doctor knew or reasonably should have known that his or her actions would cause harm but proceeded anyway, while medical negligence means the doctor unknowingly or unintentionally fell short of the standard of care. Either tort could entitle an injured patient to file a claim for financial compensation in New Mexico.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Not all medical mistakes are medical malpractice. Only errors that fail to follow a recognized standard of care for a specific situation and cause an avoidable injury are medical malpractice. Some of the most common medical malpractice claims arise from the following:
- Anesthesia errors: mistakes in the amount of anesthesia administered to a patient or the mixture of drugs used.
- Intubation errors: incorrectly intubating a patient, resulting in a dangerous lack of oxygen and potential brain damage.
- Birthing errors: mistakes made during pregnancy, labor or delivery that result in harm to the mother or baby, including brain damage, cerebral palsy, Erb’s palsy or broken bones.
- Delayed diagnosis: negligently taking too long to diagnose a patient’s condition, potentially leading to a failure to treat.
- Missed diagnosis: failing to diagnose a patient completely or making the incorrect diagnosis (misdiagnosis).
- Failure to get informed consent: conducting a procedure on a patient without getting the patient’s informed consent to all known risks, benefits and alternatives.
- Failure to monitor a patient: neglecting to properly monitor a patient during a procedure, such as failing to watch vital signs.
- Improper reading of lab and x-rays: misinterpreting a patient’s test results, potentially resulting in misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose.
- Surgical infections: harm caused by using unsanitary tools or equipment during an operation or failing to provide proper postoperative care.
- Medication errors: a doctor prescribing the wrong medication or dosage to a patient, or drug administration errors.
- Emergency room error: mistakes made by staff members of an ER, often due to understaffing or poor organization.
- Medical device or implant error: a defective medical device or surgical instrument that malfunctions and causes injury to the patient.
Any lapse in what is deemed the appropriate standard of patient care by a professional in the medical industry could constitute medical malpractice. If a doctor’s mistake leads to patient injury or death, the health care provider can be held responsible.
Do I Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?
To be eligible for financial compensation through a medical malpractice claim in Alamogordo, your case must have certain elements. You can discuss your situation with an attorney to find out if you have everything necessary to bring a claim against a doctor, hospital or another health care provider. At The Fine Law Firm, we review cases with our clients at no cost or obligation.
During a case review, we will look for the following case elements:
- A doctor-patient relationship. The defendant must have owed you a professional standard of care as your official health care provider.
- A breach of the doctor’s standard of care. The defendant must be guilty of an act or omission that falls short of the required standards of the medical industry.
- Causation. The defendant’s breach of the standard of care must be the proximate or actual cause of your injury, illness or infection.
- Damages. The plaintiff must have suffered compensable losses or damages because of the defendant’s negligence. This may include lost wages or physical injuries.
You may qualify for compensation if you or your attorney can prove these elements as more likely to be true than not true. This burden of proof is known as a preponderance of the evidence. A lawyer can help you gather and present evidence to support your claim, which may include medical records and testimony from a medical expert in a comparable field.
What Is New Mexico’s Medical Review Commission Requirement?
A medical malpractice claim in New Mexico may also have to go through the Medical Review Commission. Certain plaintiffs must submit their claims to this commission – which is a panel of attorneys and health care providers – who will review them to determine if there are valid grounds for the claims.
This is a requirement for all claims brought against qualifying independent providers unless both parties agree to forgo this process. An independent provider is typically someone who is independently contracted at a hospital or health care center, rather than an employee of the facility. The Medical Review Commission is not a necessary step if a claim is being brought against a hospital or outpatient health care facility in New Mexico.
To start this process, your attorney will file an application with the commission. This application will cover the pertinent details of the case, such as the name of the defendant, the date that the act of malpractice occurred and a brief overview of the facts. It will also authorize the commission to access all relevant medical records connected to the claim.
Within 60 days of receiving the application, the commission will hold a hearing. This is where they will determine if substantial evidence of medical malpractice exists based on the information provided. The malpractice case can only proceed if the panel decides the provider failed to adhere to the applicable standards of care, and that this is what caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
Compensation in a Medical Malpractice Claim
Anytime a patient undergoes a medical procedure, there is an associated risk. However, a patient should never be the victim of a preventable medical mistake. When this happens, there are several kinds of compensation available to the patient.
Amounts of damages vary according to a victim’s injuries and prognosis for recovery. Typical categories of damages include:
- Medical bills, present, and future;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of income;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental and emotional anguish;
- Permanent disability;
- Disfigurement; and
- Punitive damages.
Punitive damages are for rare cases and only awarded by the court. These damages are a means of punishing a defendant for extraordinarily reckless or negligent behavior. Damages are also available in the event of the wrongful death of a loved one.
New Mexico Damage Caps
New Mexico is one of many states that limit the amount of financial compensation a plaintiff can receive for certain types of cases. This limit is known as a damage cap, and it typically exists to protect certain parties from financial ruin or bankruptcy, such as a health care facility or the government.
New Mexico currently has caps on all types of financial damages available in a medical malpractice claim against an independent provider. This cap is set at $750,000, to be adjusted annually according to the consumer price index starting in 2023. In addition, the state has various damage caps for claims brought against non-independent providers.
In 2023, the cap on damages available from an outpatient health care facility that is not majority-owned and majority-controlled by a hospital is $750,000. This cap will increase to $5 million in 2024, $5.5 million in 2025 and $6 million in 2026. The cap on damages from a hospital or an outpatient facility that is majority-owned and majority-controlled by a hospital is $4.5 million in 2023. It will increase by increments of $500,000 annually until it reaches $6 million in 2026. Starting in 2027, the damage caps for both types of facilities will be adjusted annually based on the consumer price index.
The medical malpractice damage caps in New Mexico apply to total damages, meaning both economic and noneconomic losses suffered by the patient. It does not, however, apply to the victim’s past and future medical care or punitive damages. This means that if your required medical care exceeds the current state cap, you can still seek compensation for the full extent of your losses.
New Mexico Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims
A statute of limitations is a legal deadline that exists on all personal injury cases. If you missed this deadline as a plaintiff, you will most likely be barred from securing any financial compensation, even if you have evidence to support your claim. The defendant will use the expired statute of limitations against you to argue that the case should be dismissed due to this administrative error.
Each state has unique statutes of limitations. In New Mexico, the general statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim is three years from the incident of malpractice. There is an exception, however, if you did not discover your injury or the act of malpractice right away; for example, the delayed discovery of a foreign object left behind in your body after a surgery. In this case, you have three years from the date that you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the malpractice to file.
The statute of limitations in New Mexico may be extended in a few circumstances. This includes if the injured victim is a minor, or someone under the age of 18, or if he or she is mentally incapacitated. In these scenarios, malpractice victims are given one year from the date they turn 18 or restore their mental capacity to file a lawsuit. Note that the statute of limitations is tolled, or paused, during the Medical Review Commission process for cases that require this step. The clock starts ticking again 30 days after the panel makes its final decision.
Since statutes of limitations can vary from case to case, contact an attorney in Alamogordo as soon as possible about a potential injury claim. Reaching out to a lawyer right away can help you avoid missing your deadline to file and losing the possibility of recovering financial compensation for medical malpractice. It can also lead to stronger evidence to support your case, such as more accurate witness statements.
Call Our Alamogordo Medical Malpractice Lawyers For a Free Consultation
If you are the victim of a preventable medical error, call The Fine Law Firm to learn more about compensation and filing your medical malpractice claim. New Mexico limits the time available to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, so it is essential to speak with an experienced attorney today. Call (505) 889-3463 or contact us online today to request a free case consultation in Alamogordo.