New Mexico Medical Malpractice Laws Staff Profile Picture
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In its 2022 Health Data Summary, the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center found that the distribution of the state’s population affected access to healthcare, particularly in rural or frontier areas. On average, only 71.5% of New Mexico’s population had a primary healthcare provider, falling below the national average of 76.8%.

Out of the state’s 33 counties, 12 had no inpatient maternity service, while eight lacked surgical facilities that could accommodate labor and delivery procedures for pregnant women. There was also a substantial lack of nursing staff in rural locations, even though New Mexico had over 15,000 registered nurses and more than 1,500 advanced practice nurses. Furthermore, out of the state’s 3,008 licensed primary care practitioners, only 1,607 were actively engaged in the profession.

Poor access to healthcare in certain areas of New Mexico may result in medical mistakes and negligence as available professionals struggle to accommodate local residents. In turn, these issues can lead to injuries and even deaths among patients, forcing them and their loved ones to deal with the long-term consequences.

To address cases involving any harm caused by a medical professional, New Mexico has laws and regulations that compensate victims for their losses and aim to curb future mishaps. This article will offer a detailed summary of these laws to help victims build a case for a medical malpractice claim.

What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice in New Mexico?

Under the Medical Malpractice Act, New Mexico defines medical malpractice as a negligent act or omission that results in a proximate injury to a patient. Simply put, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider makes a mistake or delivers incorrect treatment and injures a patient.

In general, the following examples can be considered medical malpractice:

  • Anesthetic mistakes.

  • Surgery on the wrong body part.

  • Premature discharges.

  • Misinterpretation of laboratory results.

  • Medication errors.

  • Failure to take a patient’s medical history into account.

  • Failure to obtain a patient’s informed consent for a medical procedure.

Like in other states, victims of medical malpractice in New Mexico are required to prove a healthcare provider’s negligence by addressing certain legal elements. These will be enumerated in a later section.

Who Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice in New Mexico?

In New Mexico medical malpractice cases, the healthcare practitioner who acted with negligence is often the one to be sued. As defined by the state’s Medical Malpractice Act, these practitioners can include doctors, physicians, therapists, and other individuals who are licensed to provide healthcare services.

Other parties may also be found guilty of contributing to the victim’s injury. These can include the nurses who were assisting the defendant during the time of the malpractice’s occurrence or the hospital where the defendant works, particularly if the latter failed to monitor the defendant’s credentials or history of practice.

Additionally, hospitals and medical facilities in New Mexico can be found guilty of negligence if any of their personnel injures someone due to a lack of training or supervision.

In case a victim’s injury or death is caused by a pharmaceutical error, the pharmacist involved can be sued. Errors can occur if a pharmacist relays wrong instructions regarding a drug’s use or gives the wrong drug or dosage to a patient.

Lastly, while New Mexico grants government agencies and employees sovereign immunity from liability, there are some exemptions. For one, this law does not apply to medical malpractice incidents caused by a government employee working in a hospital or healthcare facility. However, there are additional provisions involved when suing the government for medical malpractice.


It should be noted that New Mexico has its own Good Samaritan Law under Article 10, Section 3 of its Health and Safety laws. It dictates that those who provide medical care in good faith in an emergency situation will be immune from civil liability in case their actions cause additional harm to an injured person. However, this immunity will not apply if the individual rendering aid acts with gross negligence.

Medical Malpractice Liability Insurance Requirements

New Mexico requires all healthcare providers in the state to establish proof of financial responsibility by purchasing medical malpractice insurance. Doing so will allow them to qualify for the Medical Professional Liability Act’s provisions. This means any provider who is not covered by the Act will not be protected by its statutes.

The minimum coverage amount required for providers is $200,000 per incident, while coverage in terms of annual aggregates often reaches $600,000. Those who practice in fields with greater risks — such as surgeons — may require higher coverage amounts to sufficiently pay for any damages and legal costs if they are charged with medical malpractice.

In addition to these requirements, providers must pay the surcharge assessed by the state’s Superintendent of Insurance. This is part of the requirements set for enrollment under the Patient’s Compensation Fund, which will pay for any damages that exceed a provider’s medical malpractice insurance coverage. However, the fund does not cover punitive damages since these are part of a healthcare provider’s personal liability.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in New Mexico for Medical Malpractice Cases?

Under Article 5, Section 13 of the Medical Malpractice Act, victims are given a maximum of three years to file a complaint, starting from the date when the alleged malpractice took place. The same deadline applies for wrongful death claims in case the victim dies, though it begins counting down on the date of their passing.

Any victim who seeks to file a tort claim stemming from medical malpractice against a government agency or employee must also take note of the difference in deadlines. Specifically, people have only up to two years to file a tort claim.

As an additional provision, victims must submit a notice of their intent to file a claim to the government agency involved within 90 days from the date of the tort in question. Failure to file this notice will bar a person from proceeding with their claim.

On the other hand, if a tort claim stems from wrongful death, the deceased victim’s representative is given a maximum of six months from the date of death to file the notice.

Exceptions to New Mexico’s Statute of Limitations

There are specific legal scenarios where the deadlines are “tolled” or paused. This can grant victims of medical malpractice more time to take legal action.

For Individuals Who Are Under 18 Or Mentally Incapacitated

If the victim of malpractice is under the age of 18, their parent or representative will be given an extension of up to one year after the minor turns 18 to file a claim or lawsuit on their behalf. This provision can apply in cases involving birth-related injuries or a child’s surgery.

A similar guideline is followed in cases where the person who has the right to take legal action is mentally incapacitated due to their injury or another disability. They will be given an extension of one year after they recover from their mental incapacity to file a suit.

Fraudulent Concealment and the Discovery Rule

There may also be instances where the defendant in a medical malpractice case takes steps to conceal their negligence and evade responsibility for it, whether by hiding evidence or not informing the victim.

When this occurs, New Mexico’s statute of limitations will not begin counting down until the defendant’s concealment ends, and the period of concealment will likely not be counted as part of the statute’s duration.

Similarly, the discovery rule is followed for medical malpractice in the state. This can apply in cases where a doctor fails to diagnose a disease in a patient or when a victim’s injury does not make itself known until a later time.

In these instances, the statute of limitations will not start until the victim discovers the injury caused by the provider’s negligence. It may also begin on the date when the victim should have reasonably become aware of their injury.

What Do You Need to Prove in a New Mexico Medical Malpractice Case?

As mentioned above, any medical malpractice victim in New Mexico must first show that the defendant in their case acted with negligence. This is done by proving four legal elements:

  • The defendant owed the victim a duty of reasonable care falling within the standards of their practice.

  • The defendant breached their duty of care by failing to follow these standards while treating the victim.

  • The defendant’s breach of duty resulted in an injury to the victim, and this injury would not have occurred if not for the defendant’s negligence.

  • The victim suffered calculable losses due to their injury.

When initiating a medical malpractice action against a healthcare provider, a victim is also required by state law to submit their claim to the New Mexico Medical Review Commission. A panel consisting of three attorneys and three medical professionals will evaluate the victim’s claim, which must have the following details:

  • The name of the healthcare provider who allegedly injured the victim.

  • The date when the alleged malpractice occurred.

  • A summary of the facts supporting the victim’s claim.

  • A statement authorizing the panel to access the victim’s medical records.

A hearing for the case will be scheduled within 60 days from the time when the victim submitted their claim. The panel will issue a decision after determining if there is sufficient evidence that the healthcare provider in the case failed to follow the medical standard of care and injured the patient as a result.

While the panel deliberates, the statute of limitations will be paused, and it will only continue after 30 days have passed since the date when the panel made its final decision.

If the panel decides in the victim’s favor, it will assist them in finding a physician who will help them prepare for their hearing and testify on their behalf. However, the panel’s decision will not be treated as admissible evidence in the hearing, regardless of what it is.

It should be noted that, as of July 1, 2021, the New Mexico Review Commission does not evaluate claims made against hospitals or outpatient care facilities. The plaintiff and the defendant in a case can also mutually agree to forego the review process.

How Much Can You Sue For Medical Malpractice in New Mexico?

When pursuing a medical malpractice action against a healthcare provider, a victim must specify the type of losses they have suffered and calculate the amount of damages they seek to recover. They will also encounter legal provisions that can affect the total damages that can be awarded to them. To help them identify these statutes and calculate their potential damages, they can seek the services of a medical malpractice attorney.

Types of Damages

In New Mexico, medical malpractice victims can recover economic and non-economic damages, classified under compensatory damages. The former refers to any monetary losses they have sustained due to their injury, such as:

  • Medical costs.

  • Lost income or benefits.

  • Burial and funerary expenses (if the victim died from their injury).

On the other hand, non-economic damages typically include losses caused by intangible factors like:

  • Pain and suffering.

  • Emotional distress.

  • Loss of consortium.

  • Loss of enjoyment of life.

There are also times when punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff, though this only happens if there is enough evidence to prove that the defendant acted with willful or wanton misconduct or gross negligence. However, plaintiffs cannot recover these damages in a tort claim against the government.

Damage Caps

Plaintiffs must note that New Mexico has a statutory cap of $600,000 on the total damages that are awarded to a medical malpractice victim, excluding any damages related to past and future medical treatment and punitive damages.

New Mexico also has the following damage caps per act of malpractice (also excluding the damages mentioned above):

For outpatient facilities that are not majority-owned or controlled by a hospital

$750,000 for 2022 and 2023 cases

$5 million for 2024 cases

$5.5 million for 2025 cases

$6 million for 2026 cases

For outpatient facilities that are majority-owned or controlled by a hospital

$4.5 million for 2023 cases

$5 million for 2024 cases

$5.5 million for 2025 cases

$6 million for 2026 cases

For claims against the government, the following damage caps apply:

  • $300,000 for a victim’s past and future medical costs.

  • $400,000 to one person for damages other than those related to property damage or past and future medical costs.

Furthermore, the total amount of damages that can be recovered from the government may not exceed $750,000, regardless of the amounts awarded by the court to a plaintiff.

Negligence System

New Mexico courts follow the doctrine of pure comparative negligence, meaning that if a medical malpractice victim is partially liable for their injury, their total damages will be reduced based on the percentage of their liability. A victim can be found partially at fault if they hide details involving their health condition, neglect their doctor’s instructions, or give the wrong information on their medical records.

However, victims may still recover damages under the pure comparative negligence rule even if they are 99% at fault in the case. This differs from the rule of modified comparative negligence in certain states, where a plaintiff is barred from recovery if their fault reaches or exceeds a given percentage.

Methods of Obtaining Compensation

Though it is not explicitly required under New Mexico law, medical malpractice victims and defendants in the state have the option of engaging in alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve their case.

If they choose this option, both parties will be given the opportunity to present their sides and agree on a settlement with the help of a mediator. This would allow them to potentially avoid the higher legal costs and complex provisions involved in bringing their case to court.

How Much Does It Cost to Pursue a Medical Malpractice Case in New Mexico?

Medical malpractice victims in New Mexico must be mindful of the costs involved in filing a claim and pursuing damages. They will have to pay filing fees and other expenditures related to the obtainment of medical records. They will also have to consider the expenses involved in hiring expert witnesses for their testimonies.

In terms of legal costs, lawyers in medical malpractice cases are generally paid on a contingency basis. This means that they derive their payment from a percentage of the total damages a victim will receive if the case is successful. In general, an attorney will charge anywhere between 30% and 40% of a victim’s awarded damages.

Legal Resources for Medical Malpractice Victims in New Mexico

State Bar of New Mexico

Medical malpractice victims can visit the State Bar of New Mexico website for legal resources and public services that they can use. The organization’s online bar directory allows users to find specific lawyers in the state using their name, location, and practice areas. They can also visit the Ask-A-Lawyer Call-In Program section to find an opportunity to speak with a lawyer who will answer their legal queries for free. Additionally, victims can browse for information related to the New Mexico Medical Review Committee’s rules and policies on the website.

New Mexico Medical Review Commission

The website of the New Mexico Medical Review Commission is open to those who wish to learn more about legal guidelines related to medical malpractice claims. People can visit the website to download an online copy of the Commission’s policies and procedures. They can also use the website to redirect to other legal platforms and resources, including the New Mexico Medical Board.

ABA Free Legal Answers - New Mexico

New Mexicans with legal inquiries can register on Free Legal Answers for the chance to submit their questions to attorneys who will answer them at no cost. Users may send queries related to civil law matters, including those concerning health and disability. However, the platform’s attorneys cannot address questions related to criminal law or provide referrals for potential legal representation.

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