We want to trust our medical providers. We all respect doctors. We literally place our lives and our health in their hands often without hesitation or thought.
Unfortunately, that trust is not always well placed. Medical negligence and preventable medical error is among the leading causes of death in the United States. It is the leading cause of accidental death.
Injury at the hands of trusted medical professionals is devastating both physically and emotionally. It is a often a gut-wrenching decision to decide to bring a claim against a medical provider. There are countless questions and concerns that an injured patient and family will have before even considering this option.
The Albuquerque Attorneys of Collins & Collins, P.C. are here to help guide those patients and their families who have suffered serious personal injuries or wrongful death as a result of medical negligence.
Myth of Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Crisis
If you or a loved one has been seriously harmed by medical malpractice, don’t buy the media hype about frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits. This is a myth intended to protect the insurance industry, not the patients, the public or even the medical profession for that matter.
You have rights as a patient. First, and foremost, you have a right to competent medical care. If that right is violated and you suffer injuries as a result, you have have right to be compensated.
Some Numbers on Medical Negligence
Despite the suggestions of many politicians and the media that medical malpractice claims are the creation of greedy and opportunistic patients and attorneys, medical malpractice is an enormous problem in the United States.
The results of medical malpractice range from chronic pain to permanent disability to disability to death. The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that medical malpractice is currently the third leading cause of death in the United States.
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine issued its landmark study, “To Err is Human” where it was estimated that as many as 98,000 Americans died each year as a result of preventable medical error.
Despite of and perhaps related to the attack on patient rights through the myth of a medical malpractice lawsuit crisis, the more recent estimates from the Journal of Patient Safety put the number as high as 440,000 deaths per year. The study further estimated that 10 to 20 times that number suffer severe and/or permanent non-lethal injuries.
Millions of Americans are harmed or killed each year as a result of preventable medical error. Yet the myth goes on with constant attacks on patient rights and safety for the benefit of insurance companies.
More Than a Bad Outcome is Required for a Medical Malpractice Claim
It is important to understand that just dissatisfaction with medical care does not mean there is negligence. Likewise, even bad medical outcomes do not necessarily suggest malpractice.
There are many inherent dangers to medical care some of which cannot be avoided. It is those that can and should be avoided that lead to medical malpractice claims.
Medical Malpractice Claims are Complex
Medical malpractice claims are extremely complex. The burden is on the injured party to show that the doctor’s behavior was negligent and fell below the standard level of care under the circumstances.
Because doctors are not prone to admit malpractice, proof of malpractice generally requires extensive attorney resources and expert witness assistance. This means that the injured plaintiff must get a medical expert that will state in court if necessary that the behavior did amount to malpractice. This cannot be avoided or the case will not get out of the gate.
Deadlines and Other Requirements in a New Mexico Medical Malpractice Claim
There are numerous laws, regulations and time limits that apply specifically to medical malpractice claims. These include:
- Special deadlines for medical malpractice claims.
- Special filing requirements for many medical malpractice claims.
- Special limitations on recoverable damages in certain medical malpractice claims.
To understand these requirements, it is important also to understand two more important points:
- There may be different deadlines that apply for private and governmental medical providers. The deadlines on suits against governmental providers is much shorter than for private claims.
- There may be different requirements depending upon the status of the medical provider as a Qualified Healthcare Provider. The special deadlines and rules above apply primarily to those medical providers who are Qualified Healthcare Providers. “Qualified Healthcare Provider” is a statutory definition and does not have the common meaning suggested by its name.
Do Not Delay!
Perhaps more than any other type of claim, it is extremely important to contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as medical negligence is suspected.
Medical malpractice claims are extremely complex. They can take months to fully evaluate due to the necessity of a medical expert evaluation prior to proceeding with a claim.
In light of the deadlines, particularly in claims against governmental medical providers where the first critical deadlines runs in only 90 days, delay can be extremely detrimental to your rights. In fact, missing a deadline will bar your claim completely.