One of the most complex types of civil claims is a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice is a unique practice area that often involves medical industry standards of care, expert witness requirements, affidavits of merit and deadlines for bringing claims. You will need to learn the medical malpractice laws in New Mexico as a plaintiff if you wish to bring a successful claim. Navigating the complicated laws involved in a standard medical malpractice claim can be easier with help from an attorney.
Definition of Medical Malpractice (and Examples)
The legal definition of medical malpractice is a party in the medical field – such as a physician, surgeon or hospital – negligently breaching the standards of patient care, causing an injury to a patient. The standards of patient care are high in the health care industry. Most physicians and hospitals meet or exceed these standards. Some, however, breach their duties of professional care and patients suffer the consequences.
- Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
- Misinterpreted test results
- Medication mistakes
- Error during an operation
- Preoperative or aftercare negligence
- Poor health management
- Labor or delivery injuries
You might have a medical malpractice claim in New Mexico if a hospital, one of its staff members or a doctor negligently caused or contributed to your injuries. If you or your lawyer can prove that another party in the same or a similar position would have done something different than the defendant, the defendant may owe you compensation for your damages.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations sets a time limit by which an injured party must file a claim. The medical malpractice statute of limitations in New Mexico is three years for most claims. New Mexico Statutes Annotated section 41-5-13 gives a maximum of three years from the date of the alleged act of malpractice for a claimant to file. If you fail to meet this deadline, the courts in your county will most likely deny your case.
An exception to the rule is if it took time to discover the act of malpractice. If a surgeon left a foreign object in your body cavity and you did not notice until years later, for example, you will typically have three years from the date of discovery of the injury or malpractice. Minors under the age of six are also exceptions to the rule. They have until their ninth birthdays to file, even if that gives the child’s parents longer than three years from the date of the malpractice.
Medical Review Commission Rule
Bringing a medical malpractice claim in New Mexico will come with a required review by a medical commission. The medical review commission is a qualified panel that will look over a malpractice action and render a decision on whether or not it appears valid. As an injured patient, you will first file an application for review with the medical review commission. You or your lawyer and the defendant will go in front of the panel and state your cases. Only if the panel decides malpractice occurred will it cooperate with you to find a medical expert witness to testify during a trial.
Caps on Damages
New Mexico is one of many states that imposes a cap, or limit, on the amount of damages a plaintiff can receive during a medical malpractice claim. These limits are often in place to protect a state’s hospitals from going bankrupt. The maximum amount available in a few different damage categories in a medical malpractice claim in New Mexico is $600,000. No plaintiff may recover more than $600,000 for lost wages, lost ability to earn a living, and pain and suffering during a medical malpractice case. A New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer near you can guide you through the state’s related laws.