When individuals sustain an injury or illness caused by the negligent actions of a medical provider, they may be able to recover compensation for their losses. If there was loss of life due to the negligent actions of a medical professional, a wrongful death claim may be warranted.
Here, we want to examine some of the basic medical malpractice laws in New Mexico, but we strongly suggest that you contact a medical malpractice attorney if you or a loved one have been harmed due to the negligence of a medical provider.
Time Limit for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Each state sets specific time frames for how long individuals have to file personal injury and medical malpractice claims. When we examine New Mexico Statutes Annotated section 41-5-13, we can see that medical malpractice victims have three years from the date of the malpractice to file a claim against the alleged negligent party. If an individual fails to file a lawsuit within this specific time frame, the case will most likely be dismissed.
There are some exceptions to this three-year time frame. If the person who sustained an injury or illness is younger than 18 years of age or considered an incapacitated person, the statute of limitations will be extended so that they have one year after they reach the age of majority or from when their incapacitation is terminated to file the claim.
Medical Review Commission Rule
Medical malpractice claims cannot be filed in court against an “independent provider” before the case has been reviewed by the New Mexico Medical Review Commission unless the provider and patient agree to forego the panel review (New Mexico Statutes Annotated section 41-5-15). A review of the patient’s claim by a qualified panel must be completed before filing the medical malpractice lawsuit in civil court.
In order to start the medical review process, the plaintiff’s attorney needs to file an “application for review” with the Medical Review Commission. The application should include details about the patient’s care, including the dates of treatment, the providers involved, as well as the action or inaction that led to the alleged malpractice. The application should also include authorization to obtain the patient’s medical records so that the panel is able to review them.
Typically, a hearing will be held within 60 days from the application being received, where both sides will provide introductory statements, witness testimony, and other evidence or documents. The panel will make a decision, answering two questions:
- Is there “substantial evidence” showing that malpractice may have occurred?
- Is there a “reasonable medical probability” that the patient sustained an injury or illness due to the malpractice?
Compensation Recovery Limitations (Damage Caps)
Like many other states throughout the country, New Mexico places limitations on the total amount of medical malpractice damages. In other states, the limitation is typically only on non-economic damages associated with the claim. However, New Mexico has put in place a cap of $750,000 on most types of damages available to a plaintiff who wins their case against an independent provider.
The cap does provide exclusions for compensation related to past and future medical care and other related benefits. As of 2023, the medical malpractice damage cap is adjusted for inflation every year based on the consumer price index.
There are separate damage caps related to types of facilities that face medical malpractice lawsuits, and we encourage you to speak to your medical malpractice attorney about any caps that could affect your case.