Author: bkwritingsupport

Top 5 Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims

Medical malpractice lawyers handle all kinds of cases in which a medical practitioner or facility caused harm to one of their patients. Medical science continues to advance. As such, patients put their trust in healthcare professionals hoping they can diagnose, treat, and care for them with the utmost diligence.

Most healthcare providers meet or exceed these expectations. However, there are instances where things go wrong. The consequences can be life-altering.

When a healthcare provider deviates from the standard of care, causing harm, you have the right to seek fair compensation for your injuries. Medical malpractice lawyers can help.

In this blog, we explore the 5 most common medical malpractice claims. If any of these situations has happened to you, consult with an attorney right away.

1 – Misdiagnosis and Delayed Diagnosis

Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are common forms of medical malpractice.

A 2022 study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality discovered that more than 7 million incorrect diagnoses are made in U.S. emergency rooms alone each year.

Misdiagnosis happens when a healthcare provider inaccurately identifies a patient’s medical condition. They can diagnose them with a different ailment than they have, or may fail to identify the medical condition, leading to inappropriate treatment and unnecessary procedures that can cause harm or make the condition worse.

A delayed diagnosis happens when a healthcare provider eventually makes the correct diagnosis but does so later than they reasonably should have connected the dots to properly identify a condition. Making a patient wait too long for appropriate treatment can worsen a condition or, in some cases, cause death.

Factors in misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis

Several factors contribute to a medical professional misdiagnosing a condition or delivering a delayed diagnosis. Among the most common include:

  • Errors interpreting diagnostic tests.
  • Failure to order the appropriate tests.
  • Inadequate patient medical history.
  • Overlooking or dismissing symptoms.

Medical malpractice lawyers must prove the healthcare practitioner deviated from the standard of care to win a medical malpractice suit.

Surgeons perform a procedure on a patient in the operating room.

2 – Surgical Errors

Surgical errors are another common reason for medical malpractice claims in New Mexico and across the U.S. Proving your surgeon made a grave error in judgment during a procedure is challenging at times. It requires a strong cause built by your attorney through a thorough investigation.

To establish surgical malpractice, your medical malpractice lawyer may rely on the following types of evidence to support your case.

  • Standard of care. The first step in providing a surgical error is to establish the standard of care that should have been provided in your specific situation. Demonstrating what a competent surgeon with similar training and experience would have done often requires an opinion from experts with the same skillset.
  • Deviation from standard of care. Next, you must show how the surgeon deviated from the standard of care. It’s not enough to uncover the deviation. You must demonstrate it occurred because of negligence or carelessness.
  • Causation. Finding a direct link between the surgical error and your injuries or harm is the next step. An expert’s evaluation may again be necessary for this step.
  • Documentation of injury or harm. Your attorney must gather and present comprehensive documentation and evidence that proves your injury or other harm was from the surgeon’s actions (or inactions).

Once all pieces of your case are in place, your attorney can file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf.

3 – Medication Errors

More than 100,000 reports of medication errors flood the offices of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration each year. These errors cause the deaths of between 7,000 and 9,000 people.

The steps for proving medication errors are like those of establishing a surgical error caused your injuries or other harm.

First and foremost, your attorney must establish that a duty of care existed between you and the healthcare provider who made the medication error. Whether it’s a doctor, a nurse, or a pharmacist, there must be a direct correlation between their involvement and the wrong medication being prescribed or dispensed.

Next comes establishing a standard of care and the deviation from that norm. An expert from a similar medical field is usually required for this stage of the process.

Finally, your attorney must prove causation between the medication error and your injuries.  

A pregnant woman is hooked up to a monitoring device during labor and delivery.

4 – Birth Injuries

Newborns are among the youngest clients of medical malpractice attorneys. Labor and delivery mistakes are unfortunately common in the U.S.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the injury rate per 1,000 births is 33. Among the most common types of birth injury is brain damage from a lack of oxygen during delivery.

Proving a birth injury is complex and requires a thorough investigation that includes reliance on experts with extensive experience in the birthing process, including prenatal, delivery, and post-natal care of both mothers and their babies.

Medical malpractice lawyers proceed with the utmost care when newborns are involved. They may try to settle the case outside of court with the healthcare provider’s insurance company. If negotiations are unsuccessful, then a medical malpractice trial is the next step.

5 – Failure to Obtain Informed Consent

Obtaining informed consent from patients before performing invasive medical procedures is a legal obligation of healthcare providers and facilities. When you’re not properly educated about the risks, benefits, and alternatives associated with a medical procedure or treatment, the medical provider has violated your rights.

Informed consent acknowledges your autonomy and the right to make educated decisions about your healthcare options.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work.

A medical practitioner explains the treatment or procedure in layman’s terms, so you understand what happens if you agree to go through with it. They also must outline any side effects and alternative treatments (often less invasive) and provide expected outcomes for both.

After you’ve received the information and had the opportunity to ask questions, your physician or the healthcare facility may ask you to sign forms indicating you were informed about your choice before you made it.

Physicians who skip this step can find themselves facing a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Medical malpractice lawyers you can trust

Choosing medical malpractice lawyers to represent you is an important decision that can affect the outcome of your case. Work with attorneys with a proven history of success for their medical malpractice clients.

Ready to schedule a no-obligation consultation to discuss your case? Give us call today to get started.

Want to Win Your Medical Malpractice Lawsuit? Evidence Matters.

Medical malpractice lawyers skilled in their craft advise their clients on the importance of gathering the right kind of evidence to support their cases.

Providing effective proof of your claims can mean the difference between a fair settlement or judgement and one that leaves you without adequate compensation for your injuries.

Evidence matters. In this blog, we answer some of the most common questions about which kind of documentation can help your case, including:

How does early documentation help your case?

Documenting events, injuries, treatments, and conversations about your case as soon as they occur helps medical malpractice lawyers build a strong case.

Early documentation helps to establish a clear timeline, ensuring all relevant information is recorded accurately and preserved for use in your case.

Gathering eyewitness testimony while the events are still fresh in their minds yields the best results. The longer you wait to get this information, the more likely it is that memory lapses or inaccuracies creep in, tainting your claim.

Most medical malpractice attorneys advise their clients on the importance of gaining access to all relevant information early in their cases.

Doing so preserves the evidence, establishes a timeline, ensures accuracy, and supports the legal process. Not to mention, it plays a pivotal role in determining the strength of your case and can significantly impact the outcome.

An expert witness testifies at the request of medical malpractice lawyers to prove their client's case.

What are the most effective types of evidence?

Knowing it’s important to secure documents early in your case is different than knowing which types of evidence are the most effective at supporting your claims.

If you want to bolster your medical malpractice claim, your attorney is likely to suggest focusing on certain types of evidence. They include:

  • Medical records and documents. Comprehensive and accurate medical records serve as the backbone of any medical malpractice case. They include patient charts, treatment plans, test results, surgical notes, and other documentation related to your injuries. Medical records can provide crucial evidence about your condition, treatment, and any deviations from the standard of care.
  • Eyewitness testimony. Statements from anyone who witnesses the events in question or were present during medical procedures provide powerful evidence. Nurses, healthcare providers, and even family members who were in the room at the time of the alleged malpractice can add weight to your claim.
  • Expert witness testimony. Expert witnesses, often medical professionals with expertise in the same field as the defendant, can provide invaluable testimony. They can evaluate your medical records, explain complex medical issues to juries, and offer opinions on whether the healthcare provider’s actions deviated from the standard of care and whether that nonconformity caused harm.
  • Physical evidence. If there are physical objects related to the case – medical devices, surgical instruments, biological samples – preserving them for presentation can help you prove your claim.
  • Previous lawsuits or disciplinary actions. Medical malpractice lawyers investigate whether the medical provider or healthcare facility received previous disciplinary action or were the defendants of similar lawsuits. If they were, you can use it to show a pattern of behavior that puts patients at risk.
  • Informed consent documentation. Your informed consent is required before you receive any medical treatment or surgical procedures. If you were not made aware of the potential risks associated with your care, your attorney can use that information to prove a breach of duty of care.

How do you secure medical records and documents?

Securing your medical records to support a medical malpractice case builds a strong legal argument. You have a right to request your information from medical practitioners and healthcare facilities. Be advised they can charge you fees for making copies of the items before handing them over.

One of the smartest moves you can make to help the process go more smoothly is to consult a medical malpractice attorney. They can guide you through the process and make sure you understand which documents bolster your case.

Your attorney, with your permission, can request your medical records on your behalf. Sometimes, it’s easier to get them promptly when a lawyer is asking for the information.

Steps involved in the process include:

  • Notifying relevant parties in writing. Request copies of your medical records and other related documents, keeping a copy of your communication with the healthcare provider or facility. If you’re going through your attorney to get the information, they will submit their request on legal letterhead or from their official practice email account.
  • Sign authorization forms. Your attorney requires you to fill out authorization forms that allow them to access your medical records and communicate with healthcare providers and facilities on your behalf.
  • Identify relevant records. Work with your medical malpractice lawyer to identify which medical records and documents bolster your case. Some of the most common include doctor’s notes, charts, test results, treatment plans, billing records, and any correspondence from the medical providers involved in the medical malpractice claim.
  • Gather and organize documentation. Once you have the requested information, organize it systemically. Create digital and physical filing systems to ensure easy access. Make sure you have backups to prevent loss or damage.
  • Maintain the chain of custody. It’s important to establish the authenticity of the documents in court, so you’ll need to keep track of them. Note who has access to the physical copies and when.
  • Preserve confidentiality. Ensure that you and your medical malpractice lawyers treat all medial records and documents with the utmost confidentiality to protect your privacy and comply with healthcare privacy laws.

What role do expert testimonies and opinions play?

Securing expert testimonies and opinions plays a crucial role in the success of your medical malpractice case. Typically provided by medical experts with specialized knowledge and experience in the relevant medical field, they can help establish a standard of care and whether a breach of that care occurred.

Besides evaluating the actions of the healthcare provider or facility in question, experts can also:

  • Providing causation by establishing a direct link between the healthcare provider’s or facility’s actions (or lack thereof) and your injuries. They can explain how the breach of care led to your harm.
  • Educating the jury about complex medical terminology and procedures by breaking them down into simpler terms to help the jury grasp key issues and make informed decisions.
  • Rebutting defense arguments from legal experts testifying on behalf of the medical practitioner or facility responsible for your injuries.
  • Influencing settlement negotiations by providing strong opinions that favor your case and make the defendant’s medical malpractice insurance company eager to avoid a court trial.
  • Supporting damages claims that justify the amount you’re requesting to settle the case in or out of the courtroom.
Before and after photos of a man's hand. The after photo has a rash.

How can photos and video support your claim?

Photos and videos are powerful tools to support your medical malpractice claim. They visually illustrate your condition, any treatment you receive, and any resulting injuries or complications.

Some of the most effective ways to use photos and videos include:

  • Documenting your condition before and after treatment. Photos or videos taken before medical treatment can establish your baseline condition. This is vital if your medical issue is a visible physical condition.
  • Illustrating medical procedures and errors. If the alleged malpractice happened during a surgical procedure, photos or videos taken during the surgery (if available) can provide insight into what happened. Visual evidence also can show whether medical devices and equipment were used incorrectly or deficiently.
  • Counteracting denials and defenses. Attorneys for medical providers and facilities sometimes claim a patient’s condition was pre-existing. Photos and videos can disprove that defense tactic.

It’s important to verify that any photos or videos used as evidence are accurate, properly labeled, and legally obtained.

What’s the best way to preserve communication records?

Preserving communication records for a medical malpractice lawsuit is essential. They provide critical evidence to support your case.

Make sure you work with a medical malpractice lawyer who respects and follows best practices for preserving communication records effectively, including:

  • Identifying relevant communications, including emails, letters, texts, voicemails, and other forms of communication relating to your medical treatment and interaction with healthcare providers.
  • Creating a documentation system that includes a dedicated folder on your computer or external hard drive. Keep a physical file system as well as a back-up. Use clear, descriptive file names or labels for each document.
  • Avoiding alterations or deletions of any communication records, even if you believe they may be harmful to your case. Tampering with evidence has serious legal consequences.
  • Backing up digital records and storing them securely on a separate device such as an external hard drive or the cloud.
  • Preserving metadata associated with electronic communication records to establish authenticity and a timeline for the communications.
  • Taking screenshots of text messages or exporting them from your mobile device to preserve the conversation thread. Be sure to save both sides of the conversation if possible.
  • Complying with preservation orders from the defense if you receive a preservation order or court subpoena for the records.

Your medical malpractice attorney can guide you through each of these steps to ensure you follow best practices to the letter.

How do you find medical malpractice lawyers to represent you?

Finding medical malpractice lawyers to represent you can feel like a daunting task. However, it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make about your medical malpractice claim.

Research and compile a list of possible attorneys based on personal recommendations, online searches, and information from the local or state bar association. Compare their qualifications and experience, ensuring they specialize in medical malpractice cases and have a proven track record of success.

Then, schedule consultations with your top choices. During your session, evaluate communication and rapport. You’ll also want to consider fee structures and ask to see a standard client contract before deciding on an attorney.

Above all else, trust your gut. Choose an attorney who best fits your case and with whom you feel the most comfortable.

How Medical Malpractice Lawyers Negotiate with Insurance

Medical malpractice lawyers are a valuable resource for navigating through the complexities of a medical malpractice claim in New Mexico. One of the biggest headaches you might encounter if you need to sue a medical provider or healthcare facility is their insurance company.

Insurance companies play a significant role in handling medical negligence cases for their customers. Their involvement is typically tied to a healthcare provider’s professional liability insurance. It’s designed to cover individual practitioners and healthcare facilities in the event they’re sued for malpractice.

It’s the duty of an insurance company to provide financial protection, claim evaluation, negotiation, and settlement offers for their clients. They may even have to provide support if a medical malpractice claim ends up in the courts.

In our latest blog, we explore the ways in which medical malpractice lawyers negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you get fair compensation for your injuries. We answer some of the most common questions, including:

How do medical malpractice lawyers engage with insurance companies?

Medical malpractice lawyers are your first line of defense against insurance companies for medical providers and healthcare facilities. When you’re injured because of medical negligence, you have a right to fair compensation.

Insurance companies for doctors and hospitals can quickly become roadblocks in your pursuit of adequate reparations for your injuries. If you try to engage them yourself, they’re likely to exploit your inexperience in such matters.

Medical malpractice lawyers ensure your rights are protected by engaging with insurance companies in several ways.

  • Consulting on the case. One of the first things you should do upon discovering you’re a victim of medical malpractice is to consult with an attorney with experience and expertise in these kinds of cases. Never talk to the insurance company or another representative of the at-fault medical provider without first consulting a medical malpractice lawyer.
  • Gathering evidence. Once you hire an attorney for your case, they’ll begin collecting all relevant medical records, documentation, and other evidence that supports your claim of negligence. They may consult with medical experts to review your case and provide opinions on whether malpractice occurred.
  • Preparing a demand letter. If the evidence supports your claims, the next step is for your attorney to send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s legal counsel. The document outlines your injuries, damages, and alleged negligence of the healthcare provider or facility. Sometimes your attorney may include supporting evidence to encourage a speedy settlement.
  • Negotiating a settlement. Most medical malpractice lawyers push for a settlement because it’s easier on their clients than enduring a trial.
  • Representing you in court. If negotiating a settlement is unsuccessful, your attorney begins preparing for trial.
A man sits in a wheelchair looking out a patio door. He's waiting to consult with medical malpractice lawyers.

What factors influence negotiations with insurance companies?

Negotiating with insurance companies in medical malpractice cases is a complex process. Several factors influence the outcome of any talks between your medical malpractice lawyer and representatives for the at-fault party.

Both sides consider these variables when working toward a settlement (or ending up in a courtroom).

  • The strength of liability evidence. Medical malpractice cases are built on the clarity and strength of evidence that supports your claim of medical negligence. Medical records, expert opinions, and documented breaches of standard of care put pressure on the at-fault party to settle.
  • The severity of injuries and damages. The extent and seriousness of your injuries impacts negotiations significantly. Severe injuries that require ongoing medical treatment and cause substantial pain and suffering often lead to higher settlement demands.
  • The potential jury verdict. Sometimes insurance companies for at-fault parties go to court, only to decide the risk outweighs the reward once the trial gets underway. It’s not uncommon for insurance company representatives to offer a settlement after a trial has begun if they think the court is likely to award more in damages than your attorney requested.
  • The costs of litigation. Insurance companies may decide it’s less costly to meet your settlement demands than endure a medical malpractice trial.
  • The insurance policy limits. The limits of the healthcare provider’s liability insurance policy impact the maximum amount you can receive in a settlement. If the damages exceed the policy limit, it can complicate negotiations and potentially lead to a lawsuit against the provider personally.

Other factors influence negotiations, but these are the most pressing. Your medical malpractice lawyer can explain all the considerations during your consultation.

How do lawyers determine the value of a medical malpractice claim?

Determining the value of a medical malpractice claim is a complex process that requires the thorough analysis of several factors. Medical malpractice lawyers use their expertise to assess the potential damages and losses you’ve suffered because of medical negligence.

Here’s how New Mexico medical malpractice attorneys typically determine the value of your claim.

  • Medical expenses. Your attorney calculates your past, current, and future medical expenses from your injuries. They include the costs for hospital stays, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, therapy, and any ongoing medical care for temporary or permanent disabilities.
  • Lost wages and earning capacity. Your attorney evaluates how your injuries impact your current and future ability to earn income. Some injuries may prevent you from returning to your normal duties at work, which can affect your hourly or annual wage potential.
  • Pain and suffering. A subjective assessment, your attorney determines the physical, emotional, and mental anguish caused by your injuries based on their severity.
  • Economic and non-economic damages. Lawyers differentiate between economic damages (tangible financial losses) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering). They then combine the two types of damages to reach a comprehensive value for your claim.

Other factors come into play, but these are among the most influential. Your attorney can explain everything they use to determine the value of your claim during your consultation in more detail.

A woman gets ready to sign a settlement document for her medical malpractice lawsuit.

Do insurance companies always offer settlements?

No. Insurance companies don’t always offer settlements in medical malpractice cases. They consider the strength of your case, the evidence presented with your demand letter, and the potential costs of litigation.

Some of the other factors that influence a decision about a settlement include:

  • Damages and injuries. Insurance companies weigh the extent and seriousness of your injuries before deciding whether a settlement offer is appropriate.
  • Disputes over liability. If liability is disputable, the insurance company might feel less motivated to settle. They may want to fight the case in court if they believe they have a strong defense.
  • Policy limits. The limits of the healthcare provider’s liability insurance policy play a significant role in any settlement offers. If the potential damages exceed the policy limits, the insurance company might offer a settlement within the limits to avoid personal liability for the healthcare practitioner.

What strategies do attorneys use to maximize settlements?

Medical malpractice lawyers use several strategies to maximize settlements in cases involving medical negligence. Their goal is to use the strengths of your case, present compelling evidence, and demonstrate the potential risks for the at-fault party if the case goes to trial.

Thorough case preparation is the most important part of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Your attorney conducts meticulous research and gathers all relevant evidence, including medical records, expert opinions, and witness statements. They use their findings to build a comprehensive case that clearly establishes negligence.

Some of the other strategies they use to support your case include:

  • Conduct comparative case analysis. Attorneys examine other similar medical malpractice cases that resulted in substantial settlements or favorable trial outcomes. They use that information to establish precedent for the value of your claim.
  • Engage medical experts. Medical malpractice lawyers know the value of seeking out opinions from medical experts familiar with the kinds of injuries you suffered. They can establish whether a standard of care was breached and how negligence caused the injuries. Expert testimony adds weight to your case and strengthens negotiation positions.
  • Practice strategic timing. Timing their negotiation efforts after building a strong case and gathering compelling evidence to support your claim can lead to a more successful outcome.
Lawyers and insurance company representatives sit around an office table to negotiate a medical malpractice lawsuit settlement.

How long does the negotiation process take?

The short answer to this question is it depends. The duration of medical malpractice negotiations varies significantly based on the complexity of your case, the willingness of both parties to negotiate, and the strength of the evidence.

On average, the negotiation process can take several months to a year or more. Here’s a breakdown of some of the other factors that influence the timeline.

  • Insurance company’s approach. Some insurance companies are more motivated to settle than others. If the supporting evidence provided in the demand letter is strong, it may prompt the insurance company to avoid the expense and hassle of a trial it knows it likely will lose.  
  • Mediation or alternative dispute resolution. If both parties choose to engage in mediation or an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, it might expedite the negotiation process. A third party facilities the discussions between parties, which may speed things up.
  • Legal deadlines. Statutes of limitations and other legal deadlines can affect negotiation timelines. Parties might expedite the process if deadlines are fast approaching to avoid potential legal complications.

If negotiations aren’t successful, your attorney then asks if you wish to pursue the claim in court.

What should you look for in a medical malpractice lawyer?

When choosing a medical malpractice lawyer, it’s important to find someone with experience and expertise. Make sure your lawyer specializes in medical malpractice cases and has a proven track record of handling such cases successfully.

It’s OK to favor an attorney with strong negotiation skills and a penchant for settling medical malpractice cases outside the courtroom. Just be sure your attorney also has trial experience in case you end up before a judge and jury.

Another critical factor is a positive reputation in the legal community and with past clients. Read reviews and testimonials. Ask for references to gauge their professionalism and the quality of their services.

Verify your attorney is a member in good standing with the State Bar New Mexico. You can use the public tools on the bar’s website to check whether your lawyer is a member and if they’ve had any complaints or disciplinary action taken against them.

Lastly, make sure they have a transparent fees structure. You can discuss this during the initial consultation. Ensure you’re comfortable with whatever method the attorney uses before signing a contract for services.

Have additional questions? Our team is always happy to assist. Give us a call today to schedule your complimentary consultation with one of our medical malpractice legal experts.

Everything to Know About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical malpractice lawyers hear about some of the worst medical procedure outcomes from their clients.

They sit in consultations with individuals who put their trust in the hands of skilled healthcare professionals, only to find themselves the victims of unfortunate incidents or outright negligence.

These kinds of experiences are never easy to hear. However, medical malpractice lawyers have dedicated their lives to helping patients hold healthcare professionals and facilities accountable for their actions.

In this comprehensive guide, we answer some of the most common questions about medical malpractice lawsuits, including:

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is the legal term for harm or injury a medical professional or facility causes to a patient. When their actions or omissions fall below the duty of care expected from the medical community, medical malpractice attorneys can seek fair compensation on your behalf.

You must meet 4 criteria before an incident is considered medical malpractice by the courts in New Mexico:

  • Duty of care. Healthcare practitioners must have a legal obligation or duty to provide medical care and treatment to you. This duty is established when a patient-physician relationship forms.
  • Breach of duty. Healthcare providers must have failed to meet the standard of care that a reasonably competent and skilled professional in the same field would have provided under similar circumstances.
  • Causation. The breach of duty must directly cause the patient’s injury or death. Medical malpractice attorneys must prove that negligent actions or omissions played a substantial role in your negative outcome.
  • Damages. Patients must suffer significant harm or damages because of the healthcare provider’s negligence. Physical pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses qualify.
Two prescription medication bottles sit next to each other on a table. Some of the medication is spilling out of one of them.

Common examples of medical malpractice

Medical malpractice can take many forms. If you’re not sure whether your situation falls under this category, it’s best to consult with medical malpractice attorneys who can evaluate your case and make recommendations for proceeding.

Some examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Medication errors. Medication mistakes can involve prescribing the wrong medication or dosage or failing to consider a patient’s allergies or potential drug interactions. Errors of this magnitude can worsen medical conditions, cause adverse reactions, or even life-threatening complications.
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. Healthcare providers who fail to accurately diagnose a patient’s medical condition or take too long to discover the issue can delay treatment or prescribe the wrong treatment, causing further harm.
  • Surgical errors. Surgical mistakes can include operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical instruments inside a patient, or making errors in performing the procedure. These types of mistakes cause serious complications, infections, and the need for additional surgeries.

What is the process for filing a medical malpractice claim?

You must follow a specific process for filing a medical malpractice claim in New Mexico. The first and most important step you can take is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the incident.

Medical malpractice cases are complex. Seeking the expert counsel of a medical malpractice lawyer can mean the difference between a successful and unsuccessful outcome.

Medical malpractice attorneys evaluate your case to determine if you have a valid claim. Then, they guide you through the rest of the process.

If your attorney validates your medical malpractice claim, the next steps include:

  • Gathering supportive evidence such as medical records relating to your treatments. This includes doctor’s notes, initial diagnosis of your condition, imaging scans, and test results.
  • Filing the complaint in the appropriate New Mexico court system is the next step. Your attorney handles this part of the case. The defendants are served with your complaint and given a specific timeframe to respond.
  • Conducting the discovery phase follows once the defendants respond to your claim. Attorneys for both parties share information and evidence.
  • Discussing a possible settlement sometimes happens after the discovery phase, especially if you have a strong case and the defendants want to avoid public embarrassment in the courts. Most medical malpractice cases are settled.

If you’re unable to reach a settlement, then a court date is set and both parties make their arguments before the court.

What is the medical malpractice statute of limitations?

One of the most important reasons to consult with a medical malpractice attorney is to ensure you don’t miss the deadline for filing a claim.

In New Mexico, victims of medical malpractice have three years from the date of the alleged malpractice (or from the date the patient first discovered it) to file their claim.

As with every other aspect of a medical malpractice lawsuit, the statute of limitations is complex. Some exceptions to the rule apply under certain conditions. A qualified medical malpractice attorney can provide the best guidance in these situations.

A medical professional fills in a patient chart. In the background is a patient sitting on an exam table.

Who has the burden of proof in medical malpractice cases?

Medical malpractice attorneys must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that their clients have a case. They must demonstrate through ample evidence that the defendant’s actions or omissions rise to the level of negligence or malpractice.

To meet the burden of proof in medical malpractice cases, most New Mexico medical malpractice attorneys rely on the testimony of expert witnesses with relevant experience in the same medical field as the defendant. Experts can establish the appropriate level of care and offer their opinion on whether the defendant’s breach of that care caused your injuries.

Defense attorneys can call on their own expert witnesses to provide a rebuttal or opposing viewpoint that supports their clients.

What kind of damages can medical malpractice lawyers seek?

Medical malpractice attorneys in New Mexico can seek various types of damages for their clients depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Damages aim to compensate you for your losses and harm from medical negligence.

Some examples of the types of damages your attorney may seek include:

  • Compensatory damages cover your actual financial losses for things such as future medical treatment, surgeries, therapies, and other related costs. They also cover lost wages for time off to recover and any future lost earning capacity if your injuries caused a permanent disability.
  • Punitive damages are rare but intended to further punish a defendant whose actions were so egregious the courts didn’t feel like compensatory damages were enough.
  • Wrongful death damages are appropriate if the medical professional’s actions caused the death of the patient. Surviving family members may be entitled to damages to cover funeral expenses, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, and other related losses.

Your attorney can discuss which damages are appropriate to pursue in your case during your initial consultation.

A judge in the background listens to an expert witness provide testimony in a courtroom.

Do all medical malpractice cases go to court?

No. In fact, most medical malpractices cases are settled before they ever see the inside of a courtroom in New Mexico. Going to court is expensive, time-consuming, and can cause undue emotional stress for victims.

Most medical malpractice attorneys understand the value of pursuing a settlement. Attorneys for the plaintiffs often agree because having a medical malpractice case play out in court can draw unwanted attention to their clients.

Settlements are possible at any stage of the medical malpractice claims process. They’re most common after the discovery phase, when defense attorneys have a chance to review the evidence against their clients.

How do you find medical malpractice lawyers?

Medical malpractice lawyers have a specific skillset. It’s important to find an attorney with the right experience and expertise to achieve a favorable outcome in your case.

Ask for recommendations from colleagues, family, and friends. Check out reviews for local medical malpractice attorneys. You also can reach out to the New Mexico Bar Association to request a list of qualified lawyers in your area.

Look for an attorney that provides a free consultation. The initial meeting gives you the opportunity to determine if the lawyer is a good fit for your needs.

How to Decipher NM Personal Injury Claims Jargon

NM personal injury claims are complex enough without tossing a bunch of legal jargon into the mix. Sometimes attorneys forget that their clients don’t live in their worlds. Relying on complicated legal terms to explain rights and responsibilities is never a good strategy.

Before you schedule a consultation with a New Mexico personal injury attorney, review our helpful guide that breaks down the common language associated with personal injury claims.

In this blog you’ll learn:

What is a personal injury claim?

A personal injury claim is a legal action you can take if you’ve suffered emotional, financial, or physical harm due to someone else’s carelessness or deliberate actions. NM personal injury claims are a way for you to seek fair compensation for your damages and other losses that are directly related to that negligence.

Several types of incidents fall under the umbrella of personal injuries in New Mexico:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Medical malpractice
  • Premises liability
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Wrongful death

Most personal injury claims are settled out of court. Whether yours ends up in a courtroom depends on the circumstances and the willingness of both parties to reach a fair resolution.

A jury box with 12 jurors who sit listening to a NM personal injury claims case.

Who are the key people in NM personal injury claims?

In a personal injury claim, several key people play essential roles in the process. Each person has specific responsibilities and impacts the outcome of your claim. Let’s break down all the individuals involved so you have a better understanding of everyone you might encounter during the claims period.

  1. The plaintiff
    A plaintiffis the person who initiates the personal injury claim. They suffered harm – emotional, financial, physical – because of the deliberate actions or negligence of another person. As a plaintiff, you seek compensation for your losses and other damages in your claim.

  2. The defendant
    The defendant is the person or entity (defendants can be businesses) against whom you’ve filed a personal injury claim. They are the party you’re accusing of responsibility for your pain and suffering. Your claim seeks fair compensation from the defendant.

  3. The insurance adjuster
    Insurance adjusters are a necessary part of the personal injury claims process. They work for the defendant’s insurance company. Insurance companies often make low-ball offers to plaintiffs to settle a complaint quickly. Never agree to any terms from an at-fault party’s insurance company before consulting a personal injury attorney.

  4. The personal injury attorney
    A personal injury attorney is the legal professional who helps you file your claim. During an initial consultation, your personal injury attorney can explain your rights and responsibilities. They and their staff gather all the documentation needed to prove your case. Personal injury attorneys also secure witness testimony and expert opinions. When necessary, they represent you in court.

  5. The witnesses
    Witnesses are crucial components of any personal injury claim. They can verify your injuries were caused by the carelessness or deliberate actions of another person. Bystanders, experts, and others who have information relevant to your case fall into this category.

  6. The medical professionals
    Medical professionals include any physician, nurse, or other healthcare practitioner who provided treatment for your injuries. Medical documentation is important evidence in your personal injury claim. Your attorney may request medical records and notes that prove the extent of your injuries.

  7. The expert witnesses
    If your personal injury case ends up in court, your attorney may include expert witness testimony. Expert witnesses can include medical practitioners, reconstruction specialists, engineers, and forensic scientists to clarify complex issues and support your claim.

  8. The judge and jury
    Personal injury cases that make it to court are overseen by a judge. Juries are selected to decide if the plaintiff has a case and, if so, what damages they should receive from the defendant as fair compensation. Defendants and their attorneys are more motivated to settle if they learn your case may end up in front of a jury that could award you significant compensation for your injuries.
A man gets out of his car that was just involved in an accident. He's holding his neck.

What does comparative negligence mean?

New Mexico is a pure comparative negligence state when it comes to personal injury claims. So, what does that mean, exactly?

Well, if you’re even partially at fault for your injuries, any amount you’re entitled to in a claim settlement or jury award is reduced by the percentage of your fault. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say you’re involved in an accident at work. The machine you were operating malfunctioned, causing you significant permanent injuries. An investigation of your personal injury claim determines you were 50% at fault because you weren’t following the safe usage guidelines for the equipment.

If a jury awards you $500,000 in damages but agrees you were 50% at fault, you may only be entitled to half that amount.

What is the statute of limitation for NM personal injury claims?

The statute of limitation for NM personal injury claims refers to the length of time you have to file your complaint from the date of the incident that caused your injuries. Under New Mexico law, you must file your personal injury claim within 3 years from the date of the accident or injury.

You can lose your right to seek fair compensation through the New Mexico courts if you fail to file a personal injury claim within the specified time. Defendants can use an expired statute of limitations to have your case dismissed.

A woman wearing a leg brace uses crutches to practice walking toward her physical therapist.

What are damages?

In a personal injury case, damages refer to the losses and harm you suffered in an accident, incident, or other situation due to another person’s negligence or deliberate actions. Fair compensation for your injuries is called damages in the legal system.

There are 2 types of damages in a personal injury case.

  1. Economic damages
    Economic damages are the measurable, quantifiable losses you incurred because of your injuries. They’re relatively easy to calculate since they include financial expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and any property damage (like during an automobile accident).

  2. Non-economic damages
    Non-economic damages are the intangible losses that are more challenging to quantify in a personal injury claim. Some examples of these kinds of damages include pain and suffering emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

In some cases punitive damages also may be awarded by a jury. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for particularly reckless or intentional conduct. They go beyond compensating you for your injuries and are intended to make an example of the defendant to deter others from similar behavior.

What is a medical lien in NM personal injury claims?

A medical lien, sometimes called subrogation interest, is a claim or right that a medical provider or other third party can assert against a patient’s personal injury settlement. These most often happen in workers’ compensation cases where the medical treatment for your injuries exceeds the amount of workers’ compensation liability insurance coverage.

They also can happen if you don’t have adequate health insurance coverage and medical bills pile up because of your injuries.

If there’s a medical lien against your personal injury settlement, you can expect a percentage of your final financial reward to go to the lienholder to clear your medical debt.

Your personal injury attorney can sometimes convince a medical lienholder to agree to less than the amount paid for your medical care. In some cases, the amount of damages you receive may be less than your medical lien total. It’s important to work with a skilled attorney in these situations to ensure you’re not left with bills you can’t pay after settling your personal injury case.

A judge's gavel sits resting on the base. You can see an attorney and his client in the background signing a settlement.

What is a settlement offer?

A settlement offer in a personal injury case is a proposal made by the defendant or the defendant’s insurance company to resolve your claim without a trial. They can happen at any stage in the process. However, they are more common the closer you get to a jury trial because defense attorneys know jury trials often favor a plaintiff.

Most NM personal injury claims are settled outside the courtroom, which usually is best for the plaintiff. Avoiding a jury trial lessens the amount of stress you must endure to receive fair compensation for your injuries.

Settlement offers can include the following:

  • Compensation amount. The proposed amount of money the defendant or their insurance company is willing to pay to you in exchange for settling your claim.
  • Release of liability. Most settlement offers require the injured party to agree to release the at-fault party from further liability claims.
  • Closing the case. Accepting a settlement offer usually means your case is resolved and you waive the right to any further legal action for the same injuries or incident.

The only time a personal injury attorney rejects a settlement offer is if they know it’s not in your best interest.

Avoid NM personal injury claims jargon

Cameron & Russell’s team of highly-skilled personal injury attorneys use clear and concise language to help their clients understand their legal rights and responsibility. You can avoid NM personal injury claims jargon when you work with us on your case. We make sure you understand all aspects of your case from start to finish so you can make decisions that offer the best outcome possible.

5 Types of Damages You Can Seek in NM Personal Injury Claims

When pursuing NM personal injury claims, you must understand the types of damages you can seek. Working with an Albuquerque personal injury attorney with a proven track record in helping clients recover fair compensation for their injuries is a critical part of the process.

An experienced personal injury lawyer guides you through the process from start to finish. They can determine which types of damages you should request in your personal injury claim and advise you of your rights.

In this blog, we discuss the 6 most common types of damages you can seek. They include:

Review the types and then call our offices to schedule a free case evaluation. We help our clients pursue NM personal injury claims with successful outcomes.

Two radiologists stand near a patient in an MRI machine.

1 – Medical Expenses: Recovering Healthcare Costs

When someone else’s carelessness or deliberate actions cause you serious injury, medical bills can pile up quickly. You shouldn’t have to struggle financially to pay for the medical treatment you require to recover from those injuries.

Personal injury attorneys request medical expenses when outlining the damages you’re seeking as part of your NM personal injury claims.

Some of the medical expenses covered under New Mexico’s personal injury claims statute include:

  • Emergency room treatment immediately following your injuries.
  • Hospitalization (if required) after suffering injuries.
  • Diagnostic scans (CTs, MRIs, X-rays) to determine extent of injuries.
  • Prescription medications used to treat your injuries.
  • Rehabilitation services such as physical therapy.
  • Surgeries and other medical procedures to treat your injuries.

If medical care is ongoing, such as for a permanent disability, including those expenses in your medical damages is permissible under New Mexico personal injury law.

2 – Lost Wages: Compensation for Time Off Work

Missing work is one of the biggest sources of stress when you’re injured because of someone else’s negligence. The more time you spend off work, the more your bills pile up. It’s especially concerning when the primary wage earner in a household is incapacitated and unable to report to work.

Thankfully, NM personal injury claims can include requests for lost wages. If you have lost or continue to lose income because of your injuries, your personal injury attorney can guide you through the process of how the courts calculate lost wages for damages.

Some of the factors typically considered include:

  • Pre-injury earnings are a critical factor in calculating your lost wages. Include regular wages, salary, hourly rate, commissions, bonuses, and any other forms of compensation you received before your injury.
  • Time missed from work counts as lost wages in New Mexico. Make sure you include the initial recovery period, plus time off for ongoing therapies or treatments.
  • Future income loss is calculated if you end up with a long-term or permanent disability that affects your ability to earn income in the future. An expert’s opinion is usually required when making this part of your claim for damages.
  • Employment benefit loss applies if any loss of income directly affects your benefits like health insurance, retirement contributions, and paid time off.

You must provide proper documentation of your work history to substantiate your lost wages claims because New Mexico follows a mitigation of damages principle when awarding damages.

Two heavily damaged cars that were in an accident.

3 – Property Damages: Reimbursing Repair or Replacement Costs

Property damages are common requests in automobile accidents in New Mexico. Some personal injury victims are so focused on getting medical care for their injuries that they forget they can claim property damages for their vehicles and other belongings broken during the impact.

Property damage liability is required coverage in New Mexico. All motorists must include it in their vehicle insurance policies. New Mexico’s minimum auto liability insurance amounts include $10,000 for property damage for any one accident. If this isn’t enough to cover your losses, your personal injury attorney can request the balance in damages in your lawsuit.

4 – Non-Economic Damages: Evaluating Pain and Suffering

Your personal injury attorney can factor in your pain and suffering and ongoing emotional distress from a personal injury into your NM personal injury claims. Unlike economic damages that involve tangible financial losses, non-economic damages focus on the subjective and intangible impact of your injuries.

Some of the non-economic damages you can request in your claim include:

  • Emotional distress and mental anguish refer to the psychological impact and emotional trauma you suffered because of the accident or your injuries. Long-term or permanent disabilities that cause chronic pain contribute to your emotional state and can be used to support an emotional distress damages request.
  • Disfigurement and scarring refer to visible scars, disfigurement (such as limb loss), or other permanent physical changes. You can seek financial compensation for the negative impact on your physical appearance and the emotional distress they cause.
  • Loss of consortium refers to any impact your injuries have caused on your personal relationships, such as with a spouse or partner. You can include that loss of companionship, affection, sexual intimacy, and support in your request for damages.
A man in a blue suit jacket and white shirt holds out a cell phone. Above it are the words "damages claim" and five symbols that depict the 5 types of damages for personal injury claims.

5 – Punitive Damages: Holding the At-Fault Party Responsible

In New Mexico, punitive damages are those which go above and beyond compensating you for your losses. Unlike economic and non-economic damages intended to restore you to your pre-injury state, punitive damages strictly serve the purpose of punishing the at-fault party for their actions.

Punitive damages are most appropriate for defendants who engaged in deliberate behaviors that caused your injuries. For instance, if a drunk person chooses to drive and then crashes into your car, punitive damages punish them for that deliberate choice.

You must demonstrate the defendant’s conduct was intentional, malicious, and reckless to support your request for punitive damages in New Mexico.

5 Types of NM Personal Injury Claims

NM personal injury claims are among the most common types of lawsuits filed in the state. From slip-and-fall accidents to on-the-job injuries, New Mexicans are among the more than 400,000 personal injury claims filed in the U.S. each year.

Accidents happen when least expected. You can end up the victim of physical injuries and emotional distress that lead to mounting expenses.

In New Mexico, you have a right to fair compensation if someone else’s carelessness or deliberate misconduct caused your injuries.

Working with an attorney experienced in NM personal injury claims is the most effective way to protect your rights.

Several kinds of injuries fall under the umbrella of personal injury in the state. Following are the five most common types of personal injury claims filed by New Mexico personal injury attorneys.

Two EMTs put a neck brace on a car accident victim who is behind the wheel before moving him for treatment of his injuries.

1 – Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of NM personal injury claims. New Mexico consistently ranks at the top of lists of the worst drivers in the U.S.  

Swerving in and out of lanes without signaling. Barreling down I-25 at 20-plus miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Tailgating other vehicles and failing to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.

We’ve all seen drivers engaging in these and other bad driving behaviors on New Mexico roadways.

When motorists drive with this kind of disregard for others, they can cause severe injuries to other drivers, their passengers, bikers, and pedestrians.

If you’ve been temporarily or permanently disabled due to someone else’s recklessness behind the wheel, contact a personal injury attorney to schedule a free case evaluation. They ensure your rights are protected and help you navigate the complex personal injury claims process to achieve the best possible outcome.

A man wearing a dress shirt and dress pants sits at the botton of the stairs at work, holding his back. He fell down the stairs.

2 – Slip and Fall Accidents

Right behind motor vehicle accidents as the most common NM personal injury claims are slips and falls. Property owners have a responsibility to maintain safe premises, which includes sidewalks, stairways, and other surfaces.

Slippery floors, uneven surfaces, and broken railings all are maintenance issues that can cause a serious injury.

Most slip-and-fall victims end up settling out of court. Working with a personal injury attorney is the most effective way to get a fair settlement.

Never try to negotiate with property owners, their legal counsel, or insurance companies for compensation of your injuries without first consulting an attorney. They have their client’s best interests in mind, not yours.

A judge's gavel and a medical stethoscope sit on a desk. A row of law books appears in the background.

3 – Medical Malpractice

Misdiagnoses. Medication mistakes. Surgical errors.

No one likes to think about these things happening to them when they receive treatment from a healthcare professional. Sadly, medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., according to data from the National Institutes of Health.

Medical malpractice cases are tricky. They require a personal injury attorney who can carefully examine medical records, solicit expert testimony, and who has a thorough understanding of the applicable laws and regulations for these types of NM personal injury claims.

The interior of a car with red seats and two deployed airbags.

4 – Product Liability

Defective and dangerous products can cause you significant harm. Whether it’s a manufacturing defect or an engineering design flaw, when products don’t work as intended, consumers end up with serious – and life-threatening – injuries.

Under New Mexico’s negligence law, manufacturers and distributors of products have a duty of care in producing products. They are held accountable by the courts when they fail in this responsibility and consumers end up with debilitating injuries.

One of the most recent examples of a product liability case filed in New Mexico is Gurule et al v. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. et al. The product liability suit alleges that roof and seat belt defects in an Infiniti QX4 contributed to the death of a motorist.

Product liability cases are complex and require the expertise of a NM personal injury attorney experienced in product liability laws and regulations.

A worker wearing gloves and a uniform lays on the ground, with a hard hat that came off their head laying nearby.

5 – Workplace Accidents

New Mexico workers face risks on the job every day. Most accidents and injuries fall under the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation rules and statutes. Applying for workers’ compensation benefits is appropriate in these instances.

However, workplace accidents that happen from third-party negligence or a non-employer entity’s actions qualify for a personal injury claim in New Mexico.

For instance, if you’re injured by a careless driver while making a delivery for your employer, you have a right to file for workers’ compensation benefits, plus file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.

Another example is workplace violence. If you’re assaulted by a coworker, customer, or other third party while on the job, you have a right to sue for compensation from that person directly.

Preserve your rights to fair compensation

Navigating the NM personal injury claims process is daunting without the help of an experienced attorney. The legal team at Cameron & Russell have more than a decade of experience handling these types of cases.

Reach out today to schedule a non-obligation case evaluation to discuss your rights.

Your Comprehensive Guide to NM Personal Injury Claims

Understanding how NM personal injury claims work ensures you receive fair compensation if you’re ever injured due to someone else’s carelessness or misconduct. Navigating the intricacies of personal injury claims can be daunting without the help of an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process.

Even if you have a skilled lawyer working on your case, it’s important to understand your rights under New Mexico law to pursue damages.

In this blog, we walk you through the legal principles, the steps to take after an injury, and the process for filing NM personal injury claims in the civil court system. We’ll answer the following questions in this comprehensive guide:

What is a NM personal injury claim?

A personal injury claim refer to the legal process you can use to seek compensation for injuries or harm caused by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions.

Most NM personal injury claims happen after car or truck accidents, medical malpractice cases, slips and falls, workplace accidents, and injuries or death from using a defective product.

To pursue a personal injury claim in New Mexico, you must prove the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused your injuries as a result.

You can seek compensation that covers medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property loss among other damages.

Most people opt to consult with a NM personal injury attorney to ensure their rights are protected and they received the maximum compensation allowable under the law.

A public sidewalk has a huge hole in it where a drain cover used to be. Two blocks sit on either side of the open hole, with an orange safety cone nearby.
Failing to maintain public sidewalks and other access areas can lead to a personal injury claim.

What are the types of personal injury cases in NM?

Personal injury lawyers provide legal services when you’re injured because of another person’s carelessness or deliberate actions. You may experience a temporary or permanent disability that impacts your ability to work or live your life normally.

Most personal injury attorneys handle multiple types of personal injury cases. Others may specialize in one type only. It’s best to choose a lawyer who specializes in your type of personal injury for the best results.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Claims against at-fault drivers who fail to follow the motor vehicle code are among the most common types of personal injury cases in New Mexico. Unfortunately, our state has earned the distinction of being the worst U.S. state for careless driving. It’s consistently ranked in the top 3 on this list since 2011.

Vehicle accidents can leave you with debilitating injuries. Worse yet, if you’re killed by a careless driver, your surviving family members are left behind. A personal injury attorney can help.

Medical Malpractice

Your health and well-being – and sometimes your life – is on the line every time you entrust your care to a medical professional or healthcare facility. Even treatment for minor injuries can impact your life in unforeseen ways.

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It’s unclear how many people are living with permanent injuries caused by negligent medical care since many do not publicly disclose their conditions. It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 5 Americans have suffered from medical malpractice.

Premises Liability

Failing to maintain all areas of a property can lead to someone else’s serious injury or death. That’s why the New Mexico courts take premise liability cases seriously. Property owners who ignore issues, hazards, or other dangers that can cause serious accident or injury are guilty of negligence under the law.

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are one of the leading causes of accidental injury and death in New Mexico. It’s not just older residents who become victims of this type of personal injury. No one is immune from the risk.

Next to motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall incidents are among the top reasons for NM personal injury claims.

A workers' compensation claim form, with the word "declined" stamped across it.
Sometimes workers’ compensation claims are denied, making it an appropriate time to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation is a complex category that falls under NM personal injury claims. Workers who are hurt on the job typically don’t sue for civil damages. The workers’ compensation benefits system is expected to meet their needs.

However, sometimes it’s appropriate to bring a third-party liability claim. For instance, a driver hurt making an official delivery for his employer could sue the at-fault driver in addition to collecting workers’ compensation benefits.

Wrongful Death

New Mexico law classifies wrongful death as a type of personal injury claim. Under The Wrongful Death Act, Statute Section 41-2-1, wrongful death is defined as a death that was “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”

In addition to wrongful death lawsuits, at-fault parties also may face criminal charges in New Mexico depending on the circumstances of the incident.

Which laws and statutes apply to personal injury claims in NM?

Like other states, New Mexico has laws and statutes that apply to personal injury claims. These guidelines dictate damage caps, the statute of limitations, and define comparative negligence and joint and several liability.

Statute of Limitations

New Mexico law places a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. This is the legal deadline by which you must file against at-fault parties.

In New Mexico, the statute of limitations is 3 years from the date of the injury or the date when the injury was discovered (or should have been reasonably discovered). Some exceptions and variations exist depending on underlying circumstances.

Working with a NM personal injury attorney is the most effective way to ensure you don’t miss critical deadlines.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is the legal principle that applies to all personal injury cases in New Mexico. It’s used to determine the degree of fault and allocating responsibility for an accident between the parties involved.

The court evaluates the actions and behaviors of all parties and determines the percentage of fault attributed to each.

In New Mexico, a “pure comparative negligence” doctrine applies. So, even if you’re partially responsible for your injuries, you can still recover damages from the other party.

Joint and Several Liability

Joint and several liability determines how responsibility and liability for damages are allocated among multiple defendants. Each defendant in your case is held individually responsible for the entire amount of damages awarded, regardless of their degree of fault.

This provision of the law allows you to seek full compensation from any or all of the defendants, regardless of their ability to pay. Certain limitations and exceptions apply under the New Mexico Comparative Fault Act.

A man with a green cast on his foot lays on a couch with a crutch next to him.
Seek immediate medical attention to document your injuries.

What steps should you take after sustaining a personal injury?

If you sustain a personal injury, it’s essential to take certain steps to protect your well-being, preserve evidence, and ensure your legal rights are protected. The following are some of the most crucial aspects of safeguarding your potential NM personal injury claims.

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Medical professionals can document your injuries (and their cause). These records are helpful for proving your case later.
  • Report the incident. If you were injured on the job, report it to your supervisor to comply with workers’ compensation laws. If the injury happened outside of work, report it to the proper authorities. For instance, you’d call the local police about an automobile accident.
  • Gather evidence. Get photos of the accident scene, including hazardous conditions and damage to your property when applicable. Gather contact information for any witnesses.
  • Preserve documents. Keep track of all documents related to your injury and any treatment related to it. Medical records, hospital bills, diagnostic reports, prescriptions, and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses are all recoverable under NM personal injury claims.
  • Consult with a personal injury attorney. You may want to take this step as soon as possible. Your attorney can ensure you gather all the evidence you need and keep at-fault parties from pressuring you into accepting an unfair settlement.

Every personal injury case is unique. You may require additional steps based on your specific situation, which is why consulting with an attorney is advisable.

A client and attorney sit at a desk to discuss a case. A gavel appears in the corner of the desk, along with legal papers in a blue folder.
A personal injury attorney can help you prove your case and collect fair compensation for your injuries.

How do you file a NM personal injury claim?

Specific steps are involved in filing NM personal injury claims. You must make sure you’re following the laws and statutes outlining how such cases are handled within the state to boost your chances of a positive outcome.

Consulting with an attorney is the first crucial step in the process. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation to review and discuss your case before you decide whether you want to proceed.

If you decide to file your claim after speaking with an attorney, you can expect the process to go as follows:

  • Investigation and gathering phase involves interviewing witnesses, reviewing medical records, and assessing the extent of damages.
  • Demand letter and negotiations phase follows the evidence gathering. Your attorney drafts a letter of demand to the responsible party or their insurance company outlining your injuries and the compensation you’re seeking. Negotiations for a settlement can occur.
  • Filing a lawsuit may happen if the at-fault party or their insurance company is unwilling to settle or offers unfair compensation as part of a settlement offer.
  • Discovery phase is the stage of the lawsuit where both parties exchange information and evidence and conduct depositions of potential witnesses.
  • Pre-trial proceedings can include motions, conferences, and additional negotiations between parties. Sometimes the court encourages a settlement during this phase.
  • Trial begins if a settlement isn’t reached. Both sides present their arguments and supporting evidence to determine liability and damages.

Make sure you follow your attorney’s guidance throughout the entire process to improve your chances of success.

How do you determine liability and damages?

It’s your attorney’s job to determine liability and damages for your case. They do this by carefully reviewing the facts, evidence, and applicable laws before making recommendations about your NM personal injury claims.

Some of the steps they may take as part of the process include:

  • Establishing the defendant owed a duty of care, breached that duty, and the breach caused your injuries.
  • Gathering relevant evidence to support your case, including medical records and witness statements.
  • Conducting a comparative fault assessment to determine if you have any fault in your injuries to accurately attribute liability.
  • Compiling a list of economic, non-economic, and punitive damages to determine the total scope of damages for the claim.

Using these and other methods, personal injury attorneys are skilled in conducting a comprehensive analysis of the relevant facts of your case to determine liability and damages.

A woman holds a tablet in her hands that has a digital version of medical records displayed.
Gathering your medical records and other relevant documentation is one way you can work well with your personal injury attorney on your case.

What are some tips for working with personal injury attorneys?

You are an integral part of the success – or failure – of your NM personal injury claim. Your willingness to work with your personal injury attorney ensures your rights are protected. Some of the things you can do to improve your chances of a successful outcome include:

  • Following your attorney’s advice. It’s OK to have questions or even disagree with an approach. However, keep in mind your attorney has your best interests in mind and knows the complexities of filing NM personal injury claims.
  • Keep all records and documentation. Medical bills, accident reports, correspondence, and other relevant documents help prove your case. Keep them well-organized and accessible for your attorney.
  • Be responsive and timely. Failing to meet required deadlines can prove detrimental to your case. If your attorney requests information, provide them by the deadline to ensure the best results.
  • Maintain realistic expectations. Personal injury cases are complex with many moving parts. It can take time to get through the process and address any challenges to your claim. Be patient and trust the process.

Do all NM personal injury claims go to trial?

No. Most personal injury attorneys do their best to settle NM personal injury claims out of court because it’s better for their clients. It’s emotional and stressful to recount accidents and incidents that caused your injuries in the courtroom. It also takes a lot of time to go through a trial, which may mean more missed work and lost income.

Settling your case is usually in the best interests of everyone involved. Sometimes trial judges encourage settlement before scheduling a court date if the two parties haven’t yet reached one.

Navigating the NM personal injury claims process

Navigating the NM personal injury claims process can be frustrating for the uninitiated. You don’t have to go it alone. Reach out to the experienced personal injury lawyers at Cameron & Russell to schedule your hassle-free consultation today.

NM Workers’ Compensation: Key Rights and Protections

NM workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides benefits to employees who are injured or become ill because of their jobs. Coverage for workers includes medical expenses, lost wages, and death benefits.

It’s important to understand your key rights and protections under the NM workers’ compensation law. You can contact an experienced attorney to help you file a claim and get the benefits you deserve.

In this blog, we highlight some of the most important features of the law, including:

What is workers’ compensation?

Worker’s compensation is a type of insurance that provides protection to employees who suffer work-related injuries and illnesses

. In New Mexico, workers’ compensation laws provide the framework that guarantees certain rights for workers and responsibilities for employers.

These safeguards defend you from retaliation by your employer, discrimination based on injuries or illnesses, and ensure the privacy and confidentiality of your medical records.

Understanding your rights and responsibilities helps you navigate the complexities of the process if you ever need it.

A construction worker and foreman walk through a construction site.
Injured workers have rights in New Mexico that include seeing the healthcare provider of your choice and receiving wage replacement benefits.

What are the key rights of injured workers?

Under the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation law, injured or ill workers have several key rights designed to protect their well-being. The law provides the necessary support needed during the recovery process and prevents retaliation from employers.

NM workers’ compensation laws provide the right to:

  • Choose a healthcare provider. You have the option to select your healthcare provider for treatment of your illness or injuries. Some restrictions and requirements apply. For instance, the healthcare provider must be licensed and authorized by the state’s worker’s compensation administration.
  • File a claim and seek legal representation. You can file a claim to seek benefits for your work-related injury or illness. You also have the responsibility to report your injury or illness to your employer. You must submit the necessary paperwork and provide supporting documentation to substantiate your claim.
  • Medical treatment and rehabilitation. If you’re injured on the job, you have a right to receive the necessary medical treatment to help you recover. Doctor visits, hospital stays, medications, physical therapy, and surgeries fall under this right.
  • Wage replacement benefits. Known as temporary disability benefits, these wages partially compensation for lost wages if your illness or injury prevent you from working for a period.

Make sure you understand and exercise your rights if you’re injured or become ill due to working conditions. The law is in place to ensure you receive the medical care, financial support, and legal assistance you need to recover.

What are the responsibilities of injured workers?

Employers aren’t the only ones who have responsibilities under the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation law. As an employee, you have obligations you must fulfill to be eligible for your benefits.

Make sure you’re meeting all 5 of these requirements.

  1. Reporting an illness or injury
    Ill or injured workers must promptly report their work-related condition to their employer. Reporting the incident as soon as possible ensures your employer is aware of the situation and can initiate the necessary steps to report the incident to the workers’ compensation administration.

  2. Seeking prompt medical attention
    You must seek immediate medical attention for your work-related illness or injury. Additionally, you’re required to follow the prescribed treatment plans and attend all medical appointments, rehabilitation sessions, and therapies recommended by your healthcare provider. If you fail to do any of these things, you may disqualify yourself for workers’ compensation coverage.

  3. Cooperating with the workers’ compensation process
    Providing accurate and truthful information about your injury or illness, medical history, and other relevant details is one of your responsibilities. You may need to provide documentation such as medical records and statements from coworkers to support your claim.

  4. Reporting changes in medical condition or work status
    It’s your responsibility to report any changes in your medical condition or status to your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Updates on your recovery process, your ability to return to work, and any other significant changes fall under this responsibility.

  5. Returning to work when medically cleared
    You must return to work once medically cleared. The responsibility to inform your employer and make a good-faith effort to resume your job duties falls squarely on your shoulders. Failure to do these things makes you ineligible to receive benefits.
A warehouse worker pulls a flat cart full of boxes and other materials for storage. Two other workers stand off to the side taking inventory.
New Mexico workers are protected against discrimination from employers for filing a claim.

What are the key protections of NM workers’ compensation?

New Mexico’s workers’ compensation law provides 5 key protections to injured or ill workers. These safeguards ensure fair treatment throughout the claims process.

The 5 benefits include:

  • Protection against retaliation from your employer for filing a workers’ compensation claim. It’s illegal for employers to fire, demote, or otherwise discriminate against you solely based on you exercising your right to file a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Protection against discrimination from your employer based on your work-related injury or illness. You’re entitled to the same treatment, benefits, and opportunities as your coworkers in similar positions.
  • Protection of privacy and confidentiality for your medical records and other personal information required for processing a workers’ compensation claim. Employers, insurance carriers, and other parties involved in the claims process must maintain your privacy and confidentiality, ensuring sensitive information is not disclosed without proper authorization.
  • Protection from unfair settlements gives you the assurance you can’t be coerced or pressured into accepting less than desirable settlement terms. You have the right to consult an attorney before accepting any offers to prevent your employer from taking advantage of your situation.
  • Protection of benefits entitlements ensures you receive the benefits and entitlements to which you’re entitled under the law. Medical treatment, wage replacement benefits, and vocational rehabilitation are included.

These key protections under New Mexico’s workers’ compensation law ensure you’re treated fairly if you’re injured or become ill due to working conditions.

A doctor holds out both of his hands. In each hand is a different medication.
You must attend all medical appointments and follow treatment protocol to maintain your workers’ compensation benefits.

What is the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim?

Eight steps comprise the workers’ compensation claims filing process. You’re obligated to follow each of these steps under the NM workers’ compensation law.

Step 1 – Report the injury or illness

You must promptly report your injury or illness to your employer. In the case of work-related accidents that cause an injury, you must follow additional protocol.

Informing your employer as soon as possible that you’ve been hurt or become ill due to working conditions ensures your eligibility for workers’ compensation.

Put the notice in writing when possible. Include the date, time and nature of the illness or injury, plus any additional details relating to your case.

Step 2 – Seek medical attention

Seeking immediate medical attention bolsters your case if your employer tries to challenge your workers’ compensation claim. You have the right to visit the healthcare provider of your choice. Verify the medical professional treating you is authorized by the NN Workers’ Compensation Administration (WCA).

Step 3 – Complete and submit claim forms

You or your attorney must complete the necessary forms for receiving workers’ compensation. Among the forms you must file include the First Report of Injury (Form C-4).

Additional documents may be required by the state workers’ compensation administration. Information typically collected on the forms includes information about your injury or illness, your employer, and any medical attention received.

Step 4 – Notify the insurance carrier

Your completed claims form should be submitted to the workers’ compensation insurance carrier for your employer. Information about the carrier is provided by your employer directly or through the NM WCA.

Step 5 – Investigation and review

Once your claim is received by the insurance carrier, they begin to investigate it. The process can involve reviewing your medical records, statements, and other relevant documentation.

Sometimes insurance companies request you visit a medical provider of their choosing to provide a second opinion. If this happens, you have a right to seek legal advice before agreeing.

Step 6 – Claim acceptance or denial

Based on their investigation and review, the insurance company either accepts or denies your claim. If your claim is accepted, you’ll receive notification and benefits begin.

If your claim is denied, you have a right to file an appeal. Before doing so, consult with an attorney experienced in NM workers’ compensation law to improve your chances of success.

Step 7 – Mediation and dispute resolution

If there’s a disagreement or dispute between you and your employer’s insurance carrier about your claim, mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods may be used to resolve the issue.

Mediation is a voluntary process. A neutral third party acts as a mediator to help you reach a mutually-beneficial agreement.

Step 8 – Appeal process

Should mediation fail, the final step is the appeal process. You must submit an appeal to the NM WCA. There, an administrative law judge reviews the evidence from both sides and makes a ruling.

The appeals process isn’t the final step. If you’re still dissatisfied, you have the right to seek legal counsel to explore filing a workers’ compensation lawsuit.

A man holds his head in one hand and a document in the other. A look of shock is on his face as he reads the paper.
Never lie about the extent of your injuries. You can face criminal charges for trying to commit workers’ compensation fraud.

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Failure to comply with NM workers’ compensation laws has consequences for employers and employees. The penalties were designed to encourage both parties to comply with the law to ensure the protection of workers.

Penalties for employers include:

  • Failure to provide coverage results in penalties and fines from the NM WCA. The WCA can initiate legal action against employers under certain circumstances.
  • Increased liability for employers who fail to comply with state workers’ compensation laws. Under this provision, employers can be held personally liable for your medical expenses, wage replacement benefits, and other costs.
  • Stop-work orders are issued by the WCA against employers who fail to comply with the law. Stop-work orders prevent employers from conducting business operations until they provide the necessary workers’ compensation coverage.

Penalties for employees include:

  • Fraudulent claims charges are possible against employees who knowingly file a false claim for benefits. You can face fines, be ordered to repay any benefits, and potentially face criminal charges.
  • Non-cooperation from workers includes the failure to provide requested information, refusing to undergo medical exams, or intentionally obstructing the investigation of a workers’ compensation claim. If you engage in this behavior, you can face denial of benefits or other penalties.

Get NM workers’ compensation help

Understanding the key rights and responsibilities under NM’s workers’ compensation system is crucial for employers and employees.

As an injured worker, you have the right to medical treatment, wage replacement benefits, and the freedom to choose your healthcare provider. If you fulfill your obligations and are still denied benefits, seek the expertise of an attorney skilled in workers’ compensation benefits law. They can help you get

5 Reasons for NM Worker’s Compensation Claims

NM worker’s compensation claims are filed for several reasons. Maybe you were hurt on the job or had an automobile accident during official travel while on the clock.

Work-related injuries and illnesses can devastate your life. They can strain you physically and financially. Worker’s compensation laws exist in New Mexico to alleviate the burden by providing the support you need.

In this blog, we discuss the 5 most common reasons for NM worker’s compensation claims, plus how you can get fair compensation for work-related illnesses and injuries.

1 – Assault or workplace violence

Assault or other workplace violence has unfortunately become more commonplace. According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 20,000 workers in the private industry experienced trauma from nonfatal workplace violence.

There were nearly 400 workplace fatalities from incidents of violence according to the latest data from BLS.

Workplace violence includes harassment, physical assault, and verbal threats. You don’t have to tolerate this kind of behavior. Report it to your employer. However, if your employers fails to act and you become injured, you have rights.

If another worker starts a fight with you that causes injuries, you can seek compensatory damages from your employer and your coworker under NM worker’s compensation laws.

Survivors of workplace violence that causes fatalities can seek punitive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit in addition to filing for survivor’s benefits through worker’s compensation.

2 – Car Accidents During Work-Related Travel

If you’re among the roughly 30% of workers in this country who must drive while on the clock, you might find yourself the victim of an automobile accident. Driving on the clock is a common task for many employees, especially those who work in delivery, sales, and transportation roles.

Whatever the reason for being behind the wheel during working hours, you’re covered by NM worker’s compensation laws if you have an accident.

According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the U.S.

Your chances of getting hurt while driving for your job depends on several factors, including the type of job, driving conditions, and safety protocols in place. Driving long distances or in hazardous weather conditions increases the likelihood of an accident.

A hearing doctor examines a patient's ear using a special tool to determine hearing loss.
Hearing loss is common in workers who spend their days in loud environments.

3 – Illness caused by workplace conditions

Some workplaces expose employees to hazardous materials or environments that cause them to become ill or develop chronic health conditions. The type of illness varies depending on the industry and type of exposure.

Some of the most common work-related illnesses include:

  • Asbestosis is a chronic respiratory disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Construction workers involved with building renovation are the most likely to suffer from this condition.
  • Hearing loss happens to employees exposed to high levels of noise for long periods. Construction, manufacturing, and transportation workers are the most likely to suffer from this condition.
  • Infection diseases are a hazard for healthcare workers and laboratory technicians who contact infectious agents like hepatitis and tuberculosis.
  • Lung cancer affects workers exposed to certain chemicals and substances on the job, including asbestos, benzene, and diesel exhaust.
  • Reproductive disorders can happen to workers exposed to certain chemicals and substances on the job, like lead and pesticides.
  • Silicosis happens to construction workers and miners who inhale large quantities of silica dust.
  • Skin conditions like dermatitis and eczema happen to workers exposed to hazardous chemicals or irritants on the job.

These are just a few examples of work-related illnesses that can happen to you if your job exposes you to hazardous working conditions. Consult with a NM worker’s compensation attorney if you believe an illness was caused by your work environment.

4 – Occupational diseases

Certain industries, like construction and mining, expose workers to harmful substances and conditions regularly. Workers can develop long-term illnesses or diseases from repeat exposure.

Some of the most common occupational diseases suffered by construction workers and miners include:

  • Black lung disease, also known as coal workers’ pneumoconiosis, is a lung disease caused by inhaling coal dust. Coal miners, power plant workers, and others exposed to coal dust are at risk for developing this occupational disease.
  • Mesothelioma is another lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Construction workers and miners who work around materials containing insulation – cement pipes, roofing materials – are at an increased risk.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders happen more frequently to construction workers and miners. They include back injuries due to the physical demands of the job.
A worker operates a forklift in a warehouse. Machinery malfuctioning and accidents are common causes of NM worker's compensation claims.
Operating machinery like forklifts increases the risk of suffering a workplace accident.

5 – Work-related injuries

NM worker’s compensation claims are commonly filed for injuries sustained on the job.  Accidents, like slips and falls, and repetitive strain or overuse injuries, are among the most frequently cited complaints.

Some examples of work-related accidents that fall into this category include:

  • Burns can happen to workers who handle hot foods and liquids, flames, chemicals, and electrical currents while performing their work duties.
  • Machinery malfunctions and misuse can happen to workers who regularly use drills, forklifts, saws, and other heavy machinery to complete work tasks.
  • Repetitive motion injuries are common in workers who type all day, work on an assembly line, or use vibrating tools. They can end up with conditions like bursitis, carpal tunnel, and tendonitis.
  • Slips and falls can happen in any workplace where employees are exposed to slippery or wet surfaces. They can end up with broken bones, head injuries, and sprains.
  • Strains and sprains are most common in workers who lift heavy objects or complete physically- demanding tasks during their shifts.

Work-related injuries fall under worker’s compensation laws. If you’ve suffered one of the injuries listed above, reach out to a NM worker’s compensation attorney who can help you get fair compensation.

Help with NM worker’s compensation claims

Sometimes employers deny a worker’s compensation claim. If you’re injured or become ill because of your job, you have rights under NM worker’s compensation laws.

Request a free case evaluation with our firm to explore your options.

Call Cameron & Russell for a Free Case Evaluation

Bill Russell and Marcus Cameron are the faces behind Cameron & Russell. We go the extra mile for our clients to pursue personal injury claims and provide criminal defense. We approach every case with a fresh eye to detail and the determination to represent our clients to the fullest extent the law allows. We passionately defend clients facing criminal charges, and relentlessly seek out fair compensation for personal injury claims. No matter your situation, we promise to tirelessly represent your legal needs. 

Contact Us

  • 500 Marquette Ave NW Suite 1200
    Albuquerque, NM 87102

  • P: 505-218-7844
    F: 505-672-5128

Business Hours

Monday – Friday: 9am to 6pm

The law offices of Cameron and Russell, LLC © 2020 - All rights reserved. 

We are a premier personal injury law firm located in Albuquerque New Mexico,
focused on helping people get through tragedy.

Website Design and development by BK Design Solutions