You may be wondering how much your medical malpractice settlement will be.
This is a difficult question to answer since the value of your case depends on an incredible number of factors that are specific to your situation.
Types of Damages
Medical malpractice settlements are meant to place you in a position close to where you would have been if your injury had never occurred.
A medical malpractice settlement will likely consist of economic and non-economic damages.
Punitive damages are also a possibility, but much more rare.
Economic damages are generally measurable by a precise dollar amount.
These damages include past and future medical expenses and lost wages.
Non-economic damages are much harder to quantify.
These damages compensate for things such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life (also known as hedonic damages), and loss of companionship (also known as loss of consortium).
These damages are highly subjective and usually left in the discretion of a jury to determine.
Punitive damages are possible but not likely in New Mexico and are reserved for the most egregious cases.
This is because punitive damages are not meant to compensate a victim of medical malpractice for their injuries, but instead to penalize a defendant for their intentional or reckless wrongdoing or harm.
New Mexico’s Cap on Damages
Medical malpractice payouts can vary widely.
The compensation varies depending on the jurisdiction and the severity of the injuries.
Much of the settlement or payout amount is usually made up of past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
However, New Mexico currently has a $600,000 cap on all damages except past and future medical expenses and punitive damages.
If you are reading this after January 1, 2022, the damages cap will increase to $750,000 for individual medical providers and $4,000,000 against hospitals and outpatient facilities (which will increase annually by $500,000 through 2026 to an ultimate cap of $6,000,000).
To put the current $600,000 damages cap in context, if you hypothetically received a jury award of $500,000 in past medical expenses plus $1,000,000 for pain and suffering, for a total jury award of $1.5 million dollars, the court will subsequently lower your award for pain and suffering award to $600,000, which is the limits of the current damages cap, and maintain your $500,000 award for past medical expenses, which is not included in the damages cap, for a total jury award of $1.1 million dollars.
New Mexico is a pure comparative fault state, which means that your damages will be reduced and apportioned in proportion to the percentage of fault of each party.
For example, let’s say that a court finds that you did something to make your injury worse, such as delaying your treatment, and decides that you are 10% at fault.
If you receive a jury award of $100,000, the defendant would have to pay 90%, or $90,000.
In another example, let’s say you sue a hospital and individual physician for a failure to diagnose your heart attack.
If a jury awards you $100,000, with 40% fault on the hospital and 60% fault on the physician, you will receive $40,000 from the hospital and $60,000 from the physician.
Examples of Medical Malpractice Settlements
Here are some examples of real settlements as reported in the Albuquerque Journal :
- In 2018 a man settled with the University of New Mexico Hospital for $275,000 after claiming that a neurosurgeon only replaced one of the two battery packs for his deep brain stimulator during surgery.
- A woman sued the University of New Mexico Center for Reproductive Health after she went in for a procedure to have an IUD inserted in 2017. The lawsuit alleges the doctor attempted to insert the IUD with such force that it punctured her uterine wall, requiring corrective surgery. UNMH settled with her for $50k.
Recently a woman challenged the cap on damages, but the New Mexico Supreme Court ultimately held that the cap is constitutional.
In that case, a hysterectomy procedure left the patient with holes in her intestine and uterus that the doctor missed.
The resulting infection left her in intensive care on a ventilator and feeding tube for months, and she suffered permanent brain damage.
The jury awarded $2,600,000, which the cap reduced to $935,000 for her medical expenses and $600,000 for all other damages.
Contact Poulos & Coates for Help with Your Malpractice Case
Who your attorney is also making a difference in the outcome of your case.
They need to have the necessary trial experience and willingness to fight for more than lowball settlement offers.
Our attorneys at Poulos & Coates have over 70 years of combined legal experience.
Our firm focuses exclusively on medical malpractice.
Contact us today to have one of our knowledgeable medical malpractice attorneys evaluate your case.