Tag: personal injury

When Your Doctor Makes an Honest Mistake

Unintentional injuries are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.8 million people – roughly 869 deaths per 100,000 people – occur each year due to accidents. Medical errors made by physicians and other healthcare practitioners are included in those statistics. It can be unnerving to think that medical professionals who are supposed to help you could instead cause significant injury or even death.

Victims of medical errors or their surviving family members may wish to pursue medical malpractice claims against the healthcare providers responsible for their pain and suffering. Before seeking out the advice of a personal injury attorney that specializes in medical malpractice, learning the difference between medical negligence and medical malpractice can help determine if victims have a legitimate case.

Medical negligence vs. medical malpractice

Medical negligence is the legal term used to describe an “honest mistake” by a medical practitioner or healthcare team. Even the best and brightest medical professionals can make errors. While their medical misstep can cause injury or pain to the patient, it was not done with intent, so the legal system in New Mexico views it differently. Doctors and other healthcare professionals still can be held accountable for medical negligence.  

Medical malpractice is the term applied to the outcome of medical negligence. Sometimes doctors and other healthcare providers can make mistakes, but those errors do not cause pain or suffering to their patients. When a healthcare practitioner’s actions or inactions fail to meet the medical standard of care, and it causes significant injury or illness to their patient, it rises to the level of medical malpractice. Whether intentional or not, the physician or other medical provider is then liable for their actions. New Mexico law requires claims to meet the following criteria to be filed as medical malpractice:

  • The standard of care was violated. Patients have a right to expect medical care to be administered according to consistent medical standards.
  • The patient was injured due to medical negligence. Violating the standard of care is not enough to prove medical malpractice. Patients must also show they were injured or otherwise harmed by the negligent actions.
  • The patient must demonstrate significant damages. Medical malpractice litigation is expensive. Viable cases must show that a patient endured significant damages from injuries suffered from acts of medical negligence.

Examples of medical malpractice

When medical negligence rises to the level of malpractice, it usually involves one of the following situations.

  • A failure to diagnose properly. Misdiagnosing is a popular reason for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. When healthcare providers misread or overlook symptoms and fail to diagnose a serious illness or injury, their patients can hold them responsible for any additional suffering they endure because of their failure to provide a correct diagnosis.
  • A mistake with anesthesia. Patients undergoing certain medical procedures must be placed in an induced state of consciousness to prevent feeling pain. Anesthesiologists can sometimes fail to administer the correct dosage, leaving patients to feel every incision made and procedure performed, but unable to alert doctors and nurses to their pain.
  • An error with prescription medication. Sometimes doctors prescribe the wrong dosage of a medication, or the wrong medication entirely. Prescription mistakes are another leading cause of medical malpractice lawsuits.

Can you sue for medical negligence?

In most cases, victims of medical malpractice can sue and recover damages either through a settlement or court action. They can receive fair compensation for:

  • Loss of wages, including future earning capacity, if medical negligence caused a temporary or permanent disability.
  • Medical expenses, including doctor visits, therapy, prescription medications, and any anticipated future medical interventions.
  • Pain and suffering, including for both emotional and physical pain.

In New Mexico, claimants must file before the statute of limitations expires. New Mexico law states victims have three years from the date the medical negligence occurred to file for damages against doctors and other healthcare providers.

Next steps for victims of medical negligence

Victims may be reluctant to file a medical malpractice claim, especially if they feel their doctor or other healthcare practitioner made an honest mistake and did not mean to cause them harm. Discussing the circumstances of medical negligence can help victims decide whether to pursue legal action. Choosing an experienced personal injury lawyer experienced in medical malpractice can offer the best outcome. Bill Russell has represented injured people and their families successfully for years. Schedule a hassle-free consultation to discuss your case by calling 505-218-7844 or contact Bill online.

Slip and Fall? Follow These 5 Steps.

We would all like to think we are graceful and skilled enough to stay on our feet regardless of the conditions. The sad fact is, slips, trips, and falls account for the majority of injuries in the workplace and other public spaces.  Sometimes these unfortunate accidents are due to own carelessness. Other times, they happen thanks to the neglect of others who failed to keep publicly accessible areas well-maintained. From crumbling sidewalks to wet floors without posted warning signs, if someone else’s negligence contributed to your slip-and-fall accident, contacting a personal injury attorney is one of the first steps you must take to protect your rights.

How premises liability plays into slip-and-fall accidents

Premises liability dictates that buildings, homes, parking lots, walkways, and any other areas accessible to the public must be maintained to ensure safe travel. This means salting icing walkways and repairing uneven sidewalks or crumbling concrete stairs before someone falls on them. Property owners who fail to abide by premises liability laws in Albuquerque open themselves up to a personal injury lawsuit if someone slips, trips, or falls and suffers serious injuries. Victims of slip-and-fall accidents can seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It pays to make sure your property meets all safety standards to avoid this costly mistake.

If you are the victim of a slip-and-fall accident, you must take the following five steps to ensure the best possible outcome if you decide to file a personal injury claim against the property owner.

Slip-and-fall accidents can cause TBIs and other serious injuries.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment

Depending on the conditions that caused you to fall, you may have a simple wound like a sprained ankle or something more serious like a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Your priority is to receive medical care for your injuries before all else. In addition to receiving the proper medical treatment for your physical trauma, your medical provider also can document your injuries, which includes details about how they occurred. Your medical records play a vital part in a successful personal injury claim. Validating when – and how – the damage occurred is part of the evidence your personal injury attorney will need to file your claim.

Step 2: Call a Personal Injury Attorney

Once you are examined by a medical professional and your injuries are documented and treated, your next call should be to a personal injury attorney. Even if you are unsure yet whether you plan to sue, consulting a personal injury lawyer immediately as soon as possible is the best course of action. Personal injury attorneys experienced in premise liability can handle the complexities that come with proving your case. Bringing a skilled attorney on board early guarantees you the guidance needed to gather all documentation and information you will need to win damages in an out-of-court settlement or through a jury award if your case goes to court.

Step 3: Report Your Accident

It may seem like this should be the first step, but when you suffer injuries in a slip-and-fall accident, the most important thing is to receive prompt medical attention. Whether the incident happened while shopping at the grocery store or walking down a public sidewalk, you must alert the property owner about the incident. If the place where your slip-and-fall accident occurred is a public facility, ask the management for acknowledgment in writing that you reported your injuries to them and detailed how they happened.

Step 4: Gather Documentation

This is something your personal injury attorney can help you do. As a rule, you will want to gather the names, addresses, and contact information of all potential witnesses to your slip-and-fall accident. Another critical piece of evidence is photos of the scene of the accident. If you fell on a poorly maintained surface like an uneven sidewalk or crumbling staircase, taking photos of the area can help prove your case. Make sure you set aside the clothing and shoes you were wearing when you fell in case the property owner tries to claim that how you were dressed contributed to your accident. Write down as many details about what you were doing before you fell, including the date and time of your accident.

Step 5: Right to Remain Silent

The right to remain silent does not just apply to criminals. Victims of slip-and-fall accidents must decline to give any statements to the property owners or their representatives. Beyond notifying the property owner of your accident, victims are not obligated to speak to them further or provide any additional information. Unscrupulous property owners trying to cover their part in your slip-and-fall accident might try to trick you into taking on some of the blame. It is best to leave all official communication with the property owner to your personal injury attorney.

Working with an experienced slip-and-fall attorney

Working with a knowledgeable slip-and-fall lawyer offers the best outcome in your case. Bill Russell leverages his previous experience as an insurance agent specializing in property and casualty insurance to help victims of premises liability cases. Bill and his dedicated team can handle all the confusing paperwork, ensure filing deadlines are met and give victims the respect they deserve while handling their personal injury cases. Call 505-218-7844 or contact Bill online to schedule your free case revie

Elder Abuse, Elder Neglect

Six common types of nursing home abuse
(And what you can do to stop it)

No one likes to think about their loved one suffering abuse or neglect at the hands of those who are tasked with their care. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse and neglect are a growing problem in the United States and around the world.

Most people wish for a long and happy life surrounded by family and friends. Living a long life means you eventually reach a point when you depend on others for your daily care. What do you do when the people who are supposed to help you live out your golden years in peace and contentment are causing you pain and suffering? Contacting an attorney skilled in elder abuse laws can help.

What are the most common types of nursing home abuse?

Elder abuse is a growing problem in the United States. The National Center on Elder Abuse classifies elder abuse into six categories.

  • Physical abuse. Some of the signs of physical abuse can include bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, broken bones and fractures, open wounds, and signs of restraint. These are not the only indicators that physical abuse is occurring but are some of the most common. Any physical contact with a nursing home resident that results in bodily injury, impairment, or physical harm meets the legal definition for abuse.
  • Sexual abuse. Non-consensual sexual contact of any kind with a nursing home resident is sexual abuse. This can include unwanted touching, sexual assault and battery, and sexually explicit photographing of a resident. Some of the most common signs of sexual abuse in the elderly are bruising in the genital area or on the breasts, unexplained anal or vaginal bleeding, and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases or infections.
  • Psychological abuse. From the time we are small children, we are taught that our words can hurt others. Verbal abuse of nursing home residents is, unfortunately, a common occurrence. Non-verbal actions also are classified as psychological abuse and can include forced social isolation and treating an elderly person as a child. Some of the warning signs of psychological abuse include emotional upset and agitation, withdrawn or non-responsive behavior, and self-soothing techniques like rocking.
  • Neglect. Nursing home staff who refuse to fulfill any of their duties as caregivers are engaging in elder neglect. Some of the most common forms of nursing home neglect include failure to provide adequate access to food and water, personal hygiene, medicine, comfort, and other daily living essentials. Signs of neglect include dehydration and malnutrition, untreated bedsores, poor personal hygiene, and unsafe living conditions.
  • Abandonment. Leaving an elderly person to fend for themselves when they have physical and emotional dependencies for their daily care meets the legal definition of abandonment. When nursing homes assume the responsibility of caring for your loved one, they are legally bound to provide an agreed-upon level of services. Deserting elderly residents in public locations is one common sign of abandonment.
  • Financial exploitation. Improperly using an elderly person’s assets, bank accounts, and property is considered financial exploitation. This kind of nursing home abuse most frequently happens to residents who are suffering from memory impairment like dementia or Alzheimer’s. It includes forging signatures and cashing checks without authorization or permission and stealing an elderly person’s material possessions. Keep a watchful eye out for sudden changes in a bank account or banking practices and the inclusion of additional names on credit cards or bank accounts.
elder abuse, elder care, ombudsmen, elder care advocates

What to do if you suspect abuse or neglect

It can be difficult to know what to do if you suspect abuse or neglect. The last thing you want to do is leave your elderly loved one in the care of someone who may be hurting them emotionally or physically. Taking the right action quickly can help prevent further abuse or neglect and the physical and emotional harm that it causes.

  • Law enforcement. If your loved one is in imminent danger, do not waste time. Call 911 or the local police department and request immediate assistance. Police have the authority to investigate. They can secure any warrants needed to gather evidence when abuse or neglect is confirmed.
  • Adult protective services. When abuse or neglect is suspected but you are having difficulty verifying it, calling in adult protective services can help. The New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department handle cases of suspected abuse, exploitation, and neglect. There are 5 adult protective services regions serving 33 counties in New Mexico. To find yours, call the main helpline at 866-654-3219. They will direct you to the correct department and help you file a report. An inspector or advocate from adult protective services will conduct a thorough investigation to ensure your loved one is protected.
  • Long-term care ombudsman. Ombudsmen empower residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities by educating them on their rights as protected by state and federal law. If you have an elderly loved one who depends on someone else to provide their care, bringing in an ombudsman is a good idea, even if you do not suspect abuse. Ombudsmen regularly visit residents and are skilled at spotting any signs of abuse or neglect. You can use this resource to help locate an ombudsman anywhere in New Mexico.

How to prove nursing home abuse or neglect

If you suspect your elderly loved one is suffering abuse or neglect at the hands of a nursing home or other elder-care facility, you must contact an attorney right away. It is our job to help you prove your case. We can cut through the red tape to compel nursing homes and assisted living facilities to provide documents to support your claims.

Criminal and civil penalties are part of nursing home abuse and neglect cases. The two are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to have criminal charges filed against a nursing home or assisted living facility or its employees while also pursuing a personal injury case. This is when the expertise of Marcus Cameron and Bill Russell is advantageous. Their combined experience in both civil and criminal law ensures the best possible outcome.

Call our offices today at 505-218-7844 or contact us online to request your no-obligation consultation with our team. First consultations are always free at Cameron & Russell, so you have nothing to lose by discussing your case with us.

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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