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Know your rights in cases of medical malpractice


New Mexico has a statute of limitations of three years for any medical malpractice cases. A statute of limitations is literally a limitation on the time you have to file a case. When the limitation is in regard to health, medical treatment, or overall well-being, it can be disheartening to know you have a ticking time clock on when you are able to seek justice. A medical malpractice case can be a simple fix or in the worst-case scenario, they can be fatal.

There are few, if any, ways to avoid medical malpractice. For the best possible care, it is best to find a doctor or treatment center that you trust. Don’t hesitate to ‘shop around’ for the care you deserve. While we are conditioned to trust doctors and physicians, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some bad eggs out there. Take your and your family’s health into your own hands and make sure you are receiving proper care. In the case that you do receive poor treatment or care, it is best to know your rights surrounding medical malpractice cases. While we know New Mexico has a three-year statute of limitations on when to file, we also have to take the malpractice itself into consideration.

Questions that arise are:

  • When did the malpractice specifically occur?
  • Who discovered the inconsistency, was it the patient, the doctor responsible for the injury or death, or a third party?
  • When was the malpractice discovered?

All of these questions will determine the path of the case. If the cause of medical malpractice is determined or discovered within the two-year time limit, the case may be filed more easily. It will be a more standard case anyway. Medical malpractice cases get a little trickier if the cause is not determined or discovered until after the two-year limit. This takes us to what is called the discovery rule.

The discovery rule is a rule set in place for cases in which mistreatment, improper care, unresolved care, and overall medical malpractice are not discovered within the time limit set in place as stated in a specific state’s statute of limitations. In short, the discovery rule allows for some wiggle room. In New Mexico, the discovery rule is applied quite literally. In the state of New Mexico, the three-year clock to file a medical malpractice case is extended via the discovery rule to begin upon the date of discovery. In other words, the three-year time clock will start at the date of discovery rather than the date of occurrence.

There are some exceptions and loopholes to the discovery rule, though. It is best to seek an attorney’s advice upon involvement in a medical malpractice case, however knowing the law and knowing your rights are important. Most major ‘Qualified Healthcare Providers’ cover themselves in the sense that you sign off on any rights to even file a medical malpractice case, even if a valid one arises. Generally, ‘Qualified Healthcare Providers’ are protected from being held liable or responsible for any mistreatment.

Another tricky area to take note of in relation to medical malpractice in New Mexico that may patients forget about is diagnosis. Even being misdiagnosed, or simply not diagnosed can be considered medical malpractice. For example, if you’ve sought out tests or opinions from doctors about whether you or a family member has cancer and they repeatedly decline if you later find out you or they do have cancer, that can be considered medical malpractice. Misdiagnosis is a bit more straightforward in the sense that it is more clearly a case of medical malpractice. For example, if you are diagnosed with Lyme Disease but it ends up being another case or disease, and you are receiving treatment, therapy, or worse, specific pills and drugs, for Lyme Disease then that can be considered a medical malpractice case as well.

A general overview of what may constitute a medical malpractice case:

  • Misdiagnoses
  • Failure to diagnose
  • Foreign objects being left inside the patient’s body
  • Improper care prior to surgery or treatment
  • Improper or insufficient follow-up treatment or recovery treatment
  • Incorrect surgery
  • Failure to treat or guide the recovery process
  • And more…

Even though a medical malpractice case is difficult to avoid, overall the best way to avoid a medical malpractice case is to seek a trustworthy doctor or facility. Check their records, make sure they are currently certified and your individual doctor is qualified to perform the treatment you are seeking. Needing to fact-check or background-check your doctor can seem ridiculous, but it could be the difference between a smooth surgery or treatment and a fatal accident.

Whenever you find yourself or a family member in the case of qualifying for a medical malpractice case, even long after the three-year statute of limitations, contact an experienced attorney for more information. Don’t lose hope in your health. If you have any questions or concerns about your case, call for a free consultation. Our group of attorneys is here to protect you and your family. They want you to receive the compensation and care that you deserve. Leave the case to us while you and your family spend time together, handling the recovery process. Contact Buckingham & Vega for the best possible representation.

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