Losing a family member to medical malpractice is a terrible tragedy. When undergoing a medical treatment or a procedure, you expect the health care providers to render effective and professional medical care. Unfortunately, there are situations where someone suffers further injuries or illness that ultimately results in their death. When a loved one dies due to medical malpractice, surviving family members could file a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties, such as the physician and hospital. To learn more about wrongful death hospital negligence, contact a New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer.

At Poulos & Coates, LLP, we specialize in medical malpractice matters. In fact, we are the only New Mexico law firm that focuses exclusively on medical malpractice cases. Poulos & Coates also has a doctor and nurse on staff to help evaluate your case and locate the right experts to testify in your case.

What Is Medical Malpractice in Wrongful Death Claims?

In most cases, your medical providers are well-trained and educated. However, they are not perfect, and mistakes can happen. Some errors are due to negligence, which is where medical malpractice comes into play. If a health care provider’s negligence is what led to your family member’s death, then you could have a valid wrongful death claim.

One typical example of medical malpractice involves misdiagnosing a condition. You would need to show that another doctor in a similar situation would have made the right diagnosis. Errors during surgical procedures, such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving tools inside a patient, can also lead to a medical malpractice claim.

Medical malpractice wrongful death doesn’t always involve the primary patient either. Consider a pregnant woman who comes for treatment, and the doctor’s negligence leads to the death of her baby.

Who Is Eligible to File a Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

New Mexico laws are specific on who has the legal right to bring a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit. A personal representative brings the case, but it’s on behalf of the statutory beneficiaries, such as a surviving spouse or children. The representative may be a beneficiary, but it’s not mandatory. If the deceased doesn’t have a surviving spouse and/or child, potential beneficiaries may include parents, siblings, and other relatives.  

Proving Liability in a Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Before you and your family members can collect any financial compensation in a wrongful death claim, you need to prove the defendants were negligent. Elements of a successful wrongful death claim include:

  • The deceased’s medical provider deviated from the appropriate standard of care;
  • The deceased’s medical provider did not act within the standard of care that is expected under similar circumstances;
  • The deceased’s death occurred because the medical provider deviated from the acceptable standard of care; and
  • The deceased and their family suffered damages due to the wrongful death.

Under New Mexico law, you have only three years from the date of the deceased’s death to bring a lawsuit. This deadline is called the statute of limitations. Failure to file a wrongful death lawsuit within the statute of limitations could result in your claim being denied. Most of the time, the court will throw your entire case out if you miss the deadline.

Several situations could allow you extra filing time, which is known as “tolling” the statute. For example, wrongful death cases involving fraud could provide additional time. If the medical provider committed any type of fraud or attempted to deceive others regarding their liability, the statute of limitations would start running once your family discovered the deceit.

Potential Damages in New Mexico Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Cases

Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit differ from a standard personal injury case. Potential compensation that could be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit includes:

  • Medical bills,
  • Funeral and burial expenses,
  • Lost earnings,
  • Pain and suffering (of the deceased),
  • Loss of guidance to the deceased’s children,
  • Loss of household services, and
  • Value of the deceased’s life (separate from earning capacity).  

As a surviving family member, you could also have a loss of consortium claim. Loss of consortium claims compensate family members for the effects that the person’s death had on you. As far as wrongful death claims go, loss of consortium is a separate claim.

In some situations, your family might be entitled to punitive damages as well. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter them from acting in a similar manner in the future. Punitive damages are reserved for actions that were intentional or grossly negligent. The amount of punitive damages is very subjective. There is no schedule or a set amount for punitive damages.

Contact a Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Lawyer in New Mexico

If you need assistance with a medical malpractice claim following the death of a family member, working with a skilled attorney is crucial. Medical malpractice claims are typically very complicated, and you’ll be dealing with an insurance company that doesn’t have your best interests in mind. The defendant’s insurance company is looking for how to save money and limit their payout. They may deny your claim outright or attempt to limit your compensation. You need to work with a professional law firm that has the necessary skills and experience to handle your claim and hold negligent parties responsible for their actions. No one else’s family should have to endure the same trauma your family has.

At Poulos & Coates, LLP, our attorneys have over 70 years of combined experience helping surviving family members hold medical providers and facilities accountable for their negligence. We’ve successfully filed lawsuits against all members of the healthcare industry, from physicians to drug manufacturers.If your loved one is the victim of medical malpractice, let us help you pursue a claim against all negligent parties. While no amount of financial compensation will bring your family member back, it can help you deal with the unexpected costs and financial stress you’re currently facing. With a doctor and nurse on staff, our legal team is here to help. Contact Poulos & Coates today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us review your situation and advise you on the best legal course of action.