Basic Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Claim
Medical malpractice claims in New Mexico can be reasonably challenging. Even though medical negligence is quite widespread, there remain many biases toward doctors and against injured patients.
The presumptions in favor of the medical provider can be challenging to overcome. There are several essential elements that you must prove to establish a medical malpractice claim.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. are here to help guide you through this process. If these essential elements are established, and you have been seriously harmed, then you likely have a medical malpractice claim.
The doctor-patient relationship is the first basic requirement during any medical stay. The first and perhaps most obvious element is a doctor-patient relationship. This can be somewhat complicated due to the many medical professionals and medical services that might be involved in any particular case. But at its core, this simply requires that the medical provider did in fact provide you with medical treatment.
Breach of Standard of Medical Care
The second and most important element that must be proved is that the doctor acted negligently. Medical negligence can be complicated to prove. It must be shown that the doctor did not act in accordance with the standards of the medical profession. This is commonly referred as the standard of care.
In other words, the doctor did not act as a reasonable and competent doctor would under similar circumstances. This showing requires the opinion of a medical expert.
Expert Medical Opinion
To prove negligence, an expert medical opinion is almost always necessary.
This takes time so it is vital to start early to prove that a reasonable and competent doctor would have acted differently, it is necessary to obtain an opinion from an expert in the relevant medical practice area.
This medical expert is generally also a doctor and can be quite expensive making this challenge a difficult one. Often, the medical malpractice claim will end here because the injured person cannot obtain the services of an expert due to the high cost.
Where there are serious injuries or wrongful death and it appears that medical negligence is to blame, a medical malpractice attorney will generally obtain the necessary expert opinions in advance of moving forward with a medical malpractice claim. In many cases, the expert will come back with an opinion that there was no medical negligence or with inconclusive findings.
In these cases, the attorney will generally end the pursuit of a medical malpractice claim at this point. In rare cases, again involving very serious injuries or death, the attorney may seek a second opinion. However, it would be rare that the attorney would move forward without a supporting expert opinion.
The Negligence Caused the Injuries
After negligence is proven by an expert, the patient must prove that the negligence led to injuries. The patient must then establish that negligence led to injuries. If there are no injuries, there can be no claims no matter how incompetent the doctor.
The patient’s injuries and damages might include disfigurement, permanent impairment, physical pain, emotional pain & stress, future medical expenses, and lost income among other damages.
Assuming there are injuries, the patient must prove that it was the doctor’s negligence that caused those injuries. This is not as simple as it sounds in many cases.
There are many ways the issue of causation may come up. One of the most common involves the nature of medical care and the way these cases arise. In other words, cases of medical malpractice often involve patients that were already injured or sick at the time of the negligent treatment. It can be difficult unraveling the cause of subsequent injury or illness.
For instance, a cancer patient who has received negligent medical treatment may later die. In such situations, it could be difficult to prove that the medical negligence caused or even hastened the death of the patient and not cancer itself. The doctor will likely argue that there was nothing that could be done to save the patient.
It is easy to see the necessity of a medical expert to prove otherwise. The expert would be able to show that the negligence either contributed to or hastened the death or caused additional damages such as unnecessary pain and suffering.
Do Not Delay – Important Deadlines
There are many unique requirements and deadlines in New Mexico medical malpractice claims. Evaluation of these claims can take a significant amount of time. Delays can be disastrous.
It is important to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to ensure that no deadlines are missed.
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