Like any other insurance product, such as a car or homeowners insurance, the cost of medical malpractice insurance can vary widely. If you are wondering, How much is medical malpractice insurance?
In New Mexico, medical malpractice insurance can range from several thousand dollars upwards of five figures.
Premium costs will depend mainly on the type of doctor and practice.
For instance, a surgeon in a specialty is likely to require greater medical malpractice insurance, which will come at a higher cost than a non-surgeon.
Generally, higher-risk areas of practice will demand higher rates of malpractice insurance.
To learn more about the cost of medical malpractice insurance, please read on. If you have questions, or would like to speak with a Las Cruces, New Mexico medical malpractice lawyer, please contact us today.
What is Medical Malpractice Insurance?
Before discussing the ins and outs of medical malpractice insurance and what it means for medical malpractice victims, it is essential to understand what it is in the first place.
Medical malpractice, or medical professional liability insurance, is a type of insurance that protects physicians and other licensed healthcare providers (e.g., nurses and dentists) from personal exposure and liability associated with any wrongful, negligent, or erroneous practices.
This can include protection for:
- Bodily injury,
- Medical expenses, and
- Property damage.
Medical negligence or error can result in substantial injury to patients. Often, injuries can be severe, life-altering, and permanent. This can result in significant compensation awards. Malpractice insurance is intended to cover that cost.
Medical Malpractice Insurance Policy Overview
A medical malpractice insurance policy covers the cost of any potential economic and noneconomic damages owed for bodily injury, pain and suffering, mental anguish, or property damage.
Medical malpractice insurance also protects doctors and other healthcare providers from the cost of defending lawsuits related to such claims.
The cost and complexity of defending these claims can lead to high premiums. These medical insurers spend a considerable amount of money on defense and cost containment (DCC) expenses.
How Much Does Medical Malpractice Insurance Cost?
There are two basic types of malpractice insurance, and the cost will vary depending on the policy.
Claims-made insurance protects a provider from malpractice claims only if the insurance company that insured you at the time of the malpractice is the same company when the lawsuit is filed in court.
For example, suppose company ABC was the malpractice insurer on December 1, 2020, when the patient was injured in the malpractice incident, and is still the doctor’s insurer on June 1, 2021, when the claim is filed. In that case, the doctor has coverage for the claim.
However, suppose the doctor switches insurance companies or cancels the policy in the interim between the malpractice and court filing. In that case, there is likely no coverage under that policy unless special provisions apply.
Occurrence-made malpractice insurance covers any malpractice that occurred at the time it happened, regardless of whether the policy is still in effect at the time of the lawsuit.
Essentially, this policy covers a loss that “occurs” during the policy period, regardless of when a claim is filed and even after the policy is canceled.
Determining what type of policy the doctor or healthcare provider has at the time of the malpractice is crucial to successfully pursuing your claim.
Through investigation and discovery, your lawyer will determine the applicable insurance coverage and what it means for you.
What Is the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act, and What Does It Mean for Victims?
New Mexico malpractice claims fall under the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act.
The Act outlines specific requirements and parameters for New Mexico medical malpractice cases and can affect your ability to file a claim.
Statute of Limitations
In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions is generally three years from the date of the malpractice. This means you have three years from the date the malpractice occurred to file a lawsuit.
There are instances in which this timeframe can be extended or shortened, depending on specific circumstances. It is essential to speak with a knowledgeable attorney to ensure you do not miss the deadline to file your claim.
Qualified Healthcare Providers
Under the Medical Malpractice Act, certain healthcare providers can become “qualified healthcare providers” by purchasing malpractice insurance provided by the Act.
If a doctor or other provider does not have insurance provided by the act, they are not afforded the protections of the Act.
New Mexico Medical Review Commission
If a patient wishes to pursue a medical malpractice claim, they must first submit a written application with information about their claim.
It also grants permission to the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Review Board to obtain and review their medical records.
The Medical Malpractice Act places a $600,000 cap on most damages.
In other words, victims typically cannot receive more than $600,000 in damages for their medical malpractice claims.
This amount generally excludes the cost of any medical care or treatment for the injury, which makes practical sense since medical treatment can quickly exceed $600,000 for an injury.
Unlike most other states, New Mexico law requires that payments be made “as expenses are incurred” rather than receiving all your awarded money upfront. We can provide you with more details on how this works.
The Patient Compensation Fund
The Patient Compensation Fund is, in large part, a protection afforded to the physician. Under the Act, it limits the amount the doctor must pay to $200,000.
The Patient Compensation Fund will pay any award or settlement above $200,000. Every qualified healthcare provider under the act contributes annually to the fund.
Why Does the Cost of Medical Malpractice Insurance Matter to Victims?
The cost of medical malpractice insurance matters to not only healthcare providers but victims of malpractice as well.
In addition to what we discussed earlier in this article, accident victims, including malpractice victims, are generally bound by the applicable insurance policy limits in their given scenario.
The higher the cost of malpractice insurance, the more likely healthcare providers are to opt for minimum or lower coverage policies.
In other words, as in any accident, you are restricted to policy limits when seeking damages. The high cost of premiums may lead a physician to purchase a policy with a $250,000 limit rather than a $500,000 limit. If that doctor injures you, the insurance available to pay for your injuries is limited to $250,000.
New Mexico Medical Malpractice Lawyers
At Poulos & Coates, LLP, we exclusively represent victims of medical malpractice injuries.
With a dedicated team of lawyers and a licensed M.D., we have the resources, experience, and knowledge to get you the maximum compensation possible under any applicable medical malpractice insurance policy limits and beyond.
Contact us today to schedule a compassionate and confidential consultation.