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New Mexico’s Expert Requirement in Medical Malpractice Cases

Posted in Firm News

In New Mexico medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff must be able to establish certain elements before the case will be permitted to proceed toward trial. If a plaintiff does not present sufficient evidence of medical negligence, the case will likely be dismissed in a pre-trial defense motion for summary judgment.

One of the most important issues that a plaintiff must establish in a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit is that the care provided by the defendant fell below the generally accepted standard of care for similarly situated providers. This requirement reflects the understanding that the law does not expect doctors to be perfect or that the care they provide will always have the desired effects. However, at the same time, the law does allow victims of inadequate care to recover compensation for their injuries.

In New Mexico, in order to establish that a defendant medical provider’s care fell below the generally accepted level, an expert witness will almost always be needed. Unlike other states, New Mexico does not require plaintiffs to obtain an expert affidavit prior to filing their case. However, the plaintiff will almost certainly need an expert to establish what the generally accepted level of care is, and to help show the jury that the defendant’s conduct fell below that level. This is because New Mexico jurors are regular citizens, most of whom do not have the advanced medical or scientific knowledge necessary to resolve many of the issues raised in New Mexico medical malpractice cases.

A recent case illustrates the difficulties one plaintiff had when attempting to prove his case without a medical expert. In that case, the plaintiff was an inmate at a correctional facility. The on-duty doctor was rarely at the correctional facility and left broad discretion to the on-duty nurses. In fact, the doctor left the nurses with a rubber stamp of his signature so that they could “sign” certain forms, including the form indicating that an inmate refused medication.

One day, the plaintiff became ill. The on-duty nurse provided him with medication, but he refused it. The nurse used the doctor’s stamp to “sign” the necessary form but did not inform the doctor of the plaintiff’s refusal. This continued for three days. The doctor was not made aware that the plaintiff had been refusing his medication until the plaintiff was hospitalized.

The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against both the doctor and the nurse, claiming that he was not provided adequate medical care due to the nurse’s failure to inform the doctor of his refusal. The court, however, dismissed the plaintiff’s claim because the plaintiff’s only designated expert witness did not affirmatively state that the defendants’ conduct fell below the generally accepted standard of care. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed.

Have You Been Harmed by a Doctor’s Poor Medical Care?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of inadequate medical care, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a New Mexico medical malpractice lawsuit. The dedicated New Mexico personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Fine Law Firm have extensive experience handling New Mexico medical malpractice cases, and we know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. Call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we are able to assist you in recovering compensation.

More Blog Posts:

New Mexico’s Recreational Use Statute, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 24, 2017.

Dealing with Difficult Insurance Companies Following a New Mexico Car Accident, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 11, 2017.