Medical malpractice happens when physicians or other health care providers fail to live up to a standard duty of care commensurate with their education and training. In other words, they make a mistake that resulted in injuries to you. An injury must result from the medical mistake in order to receive compensation for your damages.
New Mexico observes the comparative negligence doctrine, which may reduce compensation for damages. Victims who are partially at fault for their own damages forfeit a percentage of the judgment attributable to their own actions or inactions. For example, if the judge or jury finds you were 20% at fault for the extent of your injuries, because you failed to follow the doctor’s orders, this reduces the judgment by 20 percent.
Here is a rundown of the three categories of medical malpractice damages.
Economic damages are actual expenses that you have incurred as a result of the injury. They are very easily quantifiable because they consist of things like medical bills, loss of wages, long term medical treatment and therapy, prescription costs, and any out-of-pocket deductibles you had to pay. These damages are easy to calculate because receipts and invoices give you exact amounts paid out or due for any services.
These damages are less quantifiable but are no less important. They include intangible things like pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium or an inability to enjoy life. These intangibles can add significantly to the difficulty of your recovery.
Not all cases warrant punitive damages. However, when they are appropriate, they can be significant. Unlike the compensatory damages listed above, the purpose of punitive damages is not to make the victim whole. Instead, the intent is to punish the defendant for particularly reckless behavior to discourage him or her from similar actions in the future. Punitive damages may also deter others from the same behavior.