We trust doctors and nurses to take good care of us. Most of the time, these professionals provide phenomenal service. But sometimes, providers make mistakes that cause people to get hurt.
New Mexico’s medical malpractice laws allow patients to sue healthcare professionals who cause harm. Plaintiffs can recover damages to compensate for the costs associated with these medical mistakes.
But filing a lawsuit against a doctor isn’t always a simple task. There are some caveats to our state’s laws that can complicate a case.
For this reason, working with a reliable New Mexico medical malpractice attorney is often your best choice. Below, our lawyers will go over these caveats.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us right away.
New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act
Any medical malpractice claim in New Mexico must comply with the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act.
This set of laws regarding medical malpractice outlines the procedures and regulations for filing claims in New Mexico.
It covers various aspects of medical malpractice, including the process for filing a claim, what damages you can recover, and how long you have to file a suit.
Medical Review Commission
The state’s Medical Malpractice Act requires anyone wishing to file a lawsuit against a provider to submit their case to the Medical Review Commission.
Three members from the medical profession and three from the New Mexico Bar will review the application.
The Commission doesn’t make final decisions on whether malpractice occurred. Instead, it gathers opinions from medical experts who review the case.
These experts are usually doctors with relevant expertise who can assess if the healthcare provider acted in a way that deviated from the accepted standard of care.
After reviewing the case and considering the expert opinions, the Medical Review Commission makes recommendations. They may suggest whether the case has merit and whether the parties should try to settle.
If a settlement doesn’t occur, the injured person can still choose to take their case to court. However, the Commission’s findings can be evidence in court, which can affect the outcome of the case.
Statute of Limitations
In most cases, a plaintiff must file a lawsuit within three years of sustaining an injury. The only exceptions to this are for minors and incapacitated individuals.
If a minor is injured, they have until their 19th birthday to file a medical malpractice claim.
Likewise, imagine a patient is injured and is in a coma. The patient regains consciousness after the three-year mark. The law gives the patient one additional year after regaining the capacity to file a lawsuit.
Damages You Can Receive
Economic damages include past and future medical costs, as well as other documented expenses you incur as a result of your injury.
Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, include less quantifiable damages, such as pain and suffering, disability, and emotional distress.
Noneconomic damages are frequently hard to quantify, so an attorney can help you calculate these damages.
New Mexico’s Maximum Damage Cap
The law limits how much a plaintiff can receive in a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, these caps vary depending on whom the plaintiff sues.
These amounts do not include punitive damages, past and future medical care, or related benefits.
New Mexico law sets a damage cap on the amount a plaintiff can be awarded. This maximum is based on both the year the injury occurred and the type of defendant.
For injuries that happened before 2022, the maximum a plaintiff can recover is $600,000 against an independent provider.
For injuries that occurred after January 1, 2022, plaintiffs can recover $750,000. In 2023, New Mexico began adjusting the cap for inflation, so it may increase slightly each year.
Independent Outpatient Healthcare Facilities
All claims filed in 2023 against independent outpatient facilities have a cap of $750,000. However, the recent updates to the statute drastically increase this cap in subsequent years.
Starting in 2024, plaintiffs can receive up to $1,000,000 from these providers. After this, the cap will also be adjusted for inflation.
Hospitals or Hospital-controlled Outpatient Healthcare Facilities
The damage cap increases drastically if the plaintiff sues a hospital or a facility it controls.
The following damage caps are based on the year the injury occurred:
- 2025—$5,500,000, and
As of 2027, these caps will begin being adjusted for inflation.
New Mexico adheres to the concept of comparative negligence. It plays a significant role in determining liability and compensation. Comparative negligence assigns a degree of fault to each party involved in an incident.
A jury can determine that a healthcare provider and plaintiff share some fault in the malpractice incident. If so, the court will reduce the compensation the plaintiff can receive by their percentage of fault.
Imagine a plaintiff wins $1,000,000 in damages, but the jury says the plaintiff shares 20% fault. The court will reduce the $1,000,000 by 20%, or $200,000, leaving the plaintiff with $800,000.
The Role of Medical Malpractice Attorneys
As you can see, there are quite a few nuances to our state’s medical malpractice laws. Trying to handle these legal requirements on your own is nearly impossible.
Working with a skilled attorney will maximize your chance of recovering damages and help remove the stress of navigating the legal process.
A medical malpractice attorney will typically provide the following services:
- Case evaluation. Your attorney will meet with you to review your case and formulate a strategy.
- Evidence gathering. Your lawyer will collect medical records and other documents to find support for your medical malpractice claim.
- Document preparation. Your attorney will file the required documents with the Medical Review Commission and other authorities to prepare your lawsuit.
- Settlement negotiation. If you are willing, your lawyer will attempt to reach a settlement with the healthcare provider to cover your damages.
- Trial advocacy. If settlement doesn’t happen, your attorney will fight for your rights at trial and advocate for fair compensation.
Prepare to be patient during this process. Reaching a successful outcome can take some time, especially if your case goes to trial.
Speak with a New Mexico Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The attorneys at Poulos & Coates focus solely on medical malpractice claims. Our firm has a doctor and nurse on staff, so we understand the legal and medical factors affecting a case.
Our skilled attorneys have helped clients recover over $300 million in compensation for medical malpractice. Call today to schedule your case evaluation.