Challenging New Mexico’s Medical Malpractice Cap

It is a scary thought to even think about, but medical mistakes and errors happen. And these errors happen a lot more than you probably realize.

According to a 2016 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, more than 250,000 people in the U.S. die each year due to medical mistakes. This number means that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the country. Put another way, medical error is the cause of 10 percent of all deaths in the U.S.

Medical malpractice cap puts companies before patients

In looking at just what is leading to such high numbers, while hospital policies, procedures, communication and proper training need to all be a part of the conversation, another important element to pay attention to is the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act.

Under the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act, the amount of money a person can receive after a favorable verdict in a medical malpractice lawsuit is capped at $600,000, plus medically related expenses. At Curtis & Lucero, we are actively challenging the constitutionality of this cap. We contend that not only does this cap put the burden on those who are most severely injured due to malpractice, but also that this cap also puts the best interests of insurance companies and doctors – not the people of New Mexico – first.

One medical mistake can change your life forever

To really understand just how devastating this cap is, let’s look at a 2016 medical malpractice case. In this case, a woman was severely and permanently injured when a doctor negligently made large holes in her uterus during a hysterectomy. At the time of the operation, the doctor did not even know she made the holes. It was not until the woman went home and became septic, requiring emergency surgery that the mistake was found.

This medical error led to 105 days of in-patient hospitalization for the woman. She went through multiple surgeries and had to re-learn how to eat, talk and walk. She spent months on a ventilator and was sent home on a feeding tube and oxygen. She has permanent physical and psychological damage, including brain damage, from the mistake.

The medical malpractice case went to trial where a jury determined the doctor was negligent. The woman was awarded $2.6 million. This makes sense, considering not only the extensive medical bills, but also the fact that this woman’s life was turned upside down and she lost her longtime career in childhood education. It is safe to say her life will never again be what it once was all because the doctor made a mistake.

Malpractice cap greatly reduces necessary funds

Sadly, though, this story does not end here. Rather than just being able to collect the monetary award and move on, the doctor and employer are seeking to reduce the award from $2.6 million to $600,000, plus medical expenses. The justification for this? The New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act cap.

It is stories such as this one why we at Curtis & Lucero are challenging the constitutionality of this cap. We believe this cap unfairly treats those who are the most severely injured or die due to the negligence of a medical care provider.

No New Mexican family should live in poverty because this cap exists. We will fight until it is gone and the health and safety of New Mexicans is the true priority of the law.

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