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Albuquerque judge strikes down cap on malpractice settlements

In 2011, a New Mexico woman was hospitalized for several months as the result of a botched gynecological procedure. She filed a lawsuit against the obstetrician-gynecologist who performed the operation, as well as her health care provider. A court granted her over $2 million in damages.

Then, she ran into another problem: New Mexico had imposed a cap on the amount of damages that medical malpractice plaintiffs can receive. Even though the victim was entitled to $2.6 million, she could be paid only $600,000--less than half the amount that she had been awarded. Frustrated, the woman pursued the matter in an Albuquerque courtroom.

An outdated law

Fortunately, the litigant will be able to receive her full damages. A state court recently struck down the law that imposed a cap on medical malpractice settlements. The cap, which was put in place in 1976, stated that payments from medical malpractice lawsuits may not exceed $600,000. The 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque ruled that the state legislature exceeded its constitutional authority by imposing such a cap. This means that litigants who are awarded damages in medical malpractice lawsuits will no longer have to have their much-needed payments capped in accordance with a 70s-era law.

Medical malpractice lawsuits and damages

Though rare, medical malpractice can alter victims' lives forever. It can leave a patient with lifelong side effects; in severe cases, it can even result in death. One way that victims choose to hold their negligent health care providers accountable is by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. These suits can also provide compensation for patients' injuries, or for hospital bills that otherwise would not have accumulated. The woman who was injured by the wrongful acts of her obstetrician-gynecologist was awarded $2.6 million in damages.  

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