Pursuing a medical malpractice claim can be very challenging, especially in New Mexico.
Understandably, many prospective clients come to us wanting to know, Can I sue for malpractice?
The answer isn’t always a straightforward yes or no.
Individual circumstances impact your claim and determine whether you have grounds for a lawsuit.
First, you must file an application for review with the New Mexico Medical Review Commission.
Reasons for bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit could include misconduct, negligence, breach of contract, errors or omissions, and much more.
As the person bringing the lawsuit, you have the burden of proof to show negligence, which is a high burden in a medical malpractice case.
New Mexico Medical Review Commission Application
The New Mexico Medical Review Commission was enacted in 1976 as part of the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act.
This Act mandates that the Commission screen all potential malpractice cases before a plaintiff can file a claim in court.
The panel consists of three medical professionals and three panel members from the New Mexico State Bar, and together, they review every application received.
The panel’s decision is not binding and will not affect your ability to proceed with a lawsuit.
Your attorney will discuss the outcome with you and whether it appears prudent to take your case to trial or resolve through negotiations.
Proving Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Case
To successfully bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must prove negligence against the defendants.
This process can be more challenging in a malpractice situation.
Medical errors are common, and sometimes patients end up with unwanted results. Unwanted results don’t automatically mean there was medical negligence.
The defendant’s actions or inaction must rise to the level of negligence.
Medical malpractice claims are slightly different from standard personal injury claims.
You must show a standard of care here that you don’t with other types of claims.
The standard of care is the type and level of care that another reasonably skilled and competent health care professional with a similar background and professional experience would have administered under the same circumstances.
There is a very high burden with proving the standard of care as well, and almost always requires the testimony of expert witnesses.
For example, you cannot reasonably hold a general family doctor to the same standard of care that a cancer specialist has regarding a misdiagnosis.
If another family doctor with the same skills and training couldn’t have diagnosed a rare form of cancer, it isn’t necessarily malpractice that your family doctor didn’t either.
You also have to show that the medical provider’s negligence is what led to your injuries.
If the doctor committed an error but you suffered no harm from it, you would not have a malpractice lawsuit.
Comparative Negligence and Medical Malpractice Claims
New Mexico is one of a handful of states that recognizes pure comparative negligence.
What that means is even if you are partially responsible for your own injuries—for example, because you did not follow your doctor’s orders or failed to disclose a medication you were taking—you can still collect a portion of your damages.
However, your compensation amount would be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault.
If a jury finds you 40% at fault for your injuries, for example, you could collect 60% of your damages.
Contact a New Mexico Malpractice Lawyer
If you or someone you love is the victim of medical malpractice, you have legal rights.
However, determining what constitutes medical negligence can be complicated.
You need a skilled New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer on your side. At Poulos & Coates, LLP, we focus exclusively on medical malpractice cases.
We have years of experience helping clients get the compensation they deserve after being wronged by a medical provider.
Contact our office today to schedule an appointment and learn how we can help you prove medical negligence.