Tag: medical malpractice lawsuit

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.

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. 

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