Lawmaking can be a messy business. New Mexico lawmakers and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham learned that as they sought to amend the state’s medical malpractice law last year.
Just weeks before the beginning of 2022, when the new law was set to take effect, they had to push through and sign yet another piece of legislation clarifying some language around caps on medical malpractice damages that can be awarded for cases involving independent medical providers.
Confusion around what providers have hospital caps
The cap for medical malpractice claims against hospitals for injuries or deaths occurring in 2022 is $4 million. That goes up each year and will be $6 million for incidents occurring in 2026. After that, it will be adjusted each year based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The wording of the original law passed last year left some room for misunderstanding that caps for independent providers and small clinics associated with hospitals was also $4 million in 2022. That would have made getting malpractice insurance impossible for many of them.
Independent provider cap is $750,000
In fact, the damage payout cap for any “outpatient health care facility that is not majority-owned and -controlled by a hospital” is $750,000 for 2022 and 2023, as clarified under the bill passed at the end of the year. Independent providers will be covered by the hospital’s malpractice insurance when they’re working in a hospital. For example, a doctor may have a small medical practice, but go to a local hospital to check on patients who have been admitted there.
Malpractice caps, like all types of personal injury caps, can be tricky things – and confusing for people who are simply trying to seek justice and compensation for themselves or a loved one. That’s why it’s wise to have experienced legal guidance to help ensure that you seek the maximum possible award or settlement to which you’re entitled under the law.