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The Basics of Medical Malpractice: What You Need to Know for Your Claim

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Americans are hurt or killed by medical malpractice. In fact, a study by Johns Hopkins University found that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the United States (after heart disease and cancer). If you’ve recently been injured by a medical professional, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries by hiring an attorney and filing a medical malpractice suit. Here at Carabin Shaw, our lawyers serving New Mexico have compiled the following information about the basics of medical malpractice, what you need to know for your claim, and frequently asked questions about malpractice claims.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by their doctor (or by another medical professional) because the doctor failed to perform their duties in a competent way.

What are the Basic Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Claim?

In order to prove medical malpractice occurred, all of the following must be proven:

1. The injured party had a doctor-patient relationship with the responsible physician. First and foremost, you must show that the injured person was under the care of the doctor being sued. For instance, you can’t sue a doctor for medical malpractice if you overheard them giving advice to someone else that you then followed.

2. The doctor was negligent. It’s not enough to be dissatisfied with the quality of the care you received from your New Mexico physician – you must be able to prove that the doctor was actually negligent. That is, you must prove that a competent doctor acting “reasonably skillfully and carefully” would not have acted as your doctor did. In order to prove this, you will likely need a medical expert to determine the appropriate medical standard of care, and to determine how your doctor neglected to follow that standard. An experienced lawyer can help in this regard.

3. The injury caused by your negligent doctor led to damages. If your doctor was negligent and you were unharmed, you cannot sue for medical malpractice. But if you suffered physical or mental harm, or incurred additional debt because of medical bills, for example, then you have grounds to sue.

What are Examples of Common Malpractice Accidents?

Medication errors are among the most common types of medical malpractice. Although doctors and hospital staff are carefully trained, and although there are systems in place to keep track of patient prescriptions, hospitals are busy and chaotic places and mistakes with medication are all too common. When patients are given the wrong medication, the wrong dosage, or a medication that has harmful interactions with their other medicines, disaster can occur.

Another common cause of medical malpractice suits involves incorrect diagnoses. If a doctor incorrectly diagnoses their patient’s illness and proceeds to treat them for the incorrect diagnosis, death or serious injury may result.

Surgical errors are also common among medical malpractice cases. In extreme cases, patients have had the wrong limb amputated. Other patients have had their organs accidentally punctured. But less-extreme errors, such as inadequate sterilization of the operating room, can be just as devastating.

What is the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Cap?

Although there used to be a $600,000 cap on New Mexico medical malpractice suits (which was put in place in the 90s), Judge Victor S. Lopez ruled in 2018 that this cap is unconstitutional.

How Do I Choose a Medical Malpractice Attorney in New Mexico?

If you are looking for a personal injury lawyer in New Mexico to handle your medical malpractice case, it’s crucial to choose a lawyer with the skills and experience to win your case. Here at Carabin Shaw, our hospital negligence attorneys have a combined 200 years of legal experience, a talented and compassionate staff, and a winning track record. We’ve been helping victims of New Mexico doctor negligence for decades, and we want to do the same for you.

Our New Mexico medical malpractice lawyers offer all new clients a free consultation, so you have nothing to lose by giving us a call. To receive your free consultation with one of our talented attorneys serving New Mexico, call us today at 915-779-2301.

Visits with the Attorney are by appointment only. Main office San Antonio, Texas.

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