Over 100,000 people per year die in the United States due to medical errors—the equivalent of a jumbo jet crashing more than once per week.
New Mexico and Texas have two very different systems for medical malpractice cases. Texas law greatly favors healthcare providers and penalizes patients, in particular persons like students and stay-at-home mothers. New Mexico’s system prevents injured patients from receiving all of their damages in certain circumstances, but on the whole is much more balanced and more fair than is Texas law.
In both states, to win a medical malpractice case, we must prove that the healthcare provider in question was negligent and that the negligence caused harm. There are nuances to these rules in each state, but these are the general elements.
In the area of recoverable damages the laws of Texas and New Mexico diverge. In Texas, there is a cap of $250,000 for non-economic damages. Economic losses include lost earnings, lost earning capacity, and medical expenses. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, physical impairment, physical disfigurement and mental anguish or emotional distress. In Texas, it is possible in some cases for the cap to be $500,000 – if a hospital and physician are both negligent.
In New Mexico, the cap, if it applies, is $600,000, not including medical expenses. The cap applies, however, only to certain health care providers, almost always medical doctors, who have chosen to participate in the New Mexico statutory plan. If their insurer makes contributions to the Patient Compensation Fund, the doctor gets the benefit of the cap and any case against him must first be taken to the Medical Review Commission. The decision of the Commission usually favors healthcare providers because of the nature of the rules under which it operates, but a negative finding before the Commission does not take away the right of an injured patient to file suit, and in almost every case in which the Panel ruled against our client, we have achieved a settlement or won a verdict at trial.
If a physician or hospital is not a qualified provider by making the contribution described above to the Patient Compensation Fund, there is no cap on the recovery.
Although Doug Perrin has represented a few clients in New Mexico in case against negligent lawyers, almost all of the firm’s legal malpractice cases arise in Texas. The cases the firm has handled in the past have involved lawyers stealing money from their clients, lying to their clients, failing to disclose material facts to their clients, failing to file lawsuits, motions or discovery on time, engaging in conflicts of interest, overbilling their clients, and other sad stories of betrayal or incompetence. Many legal malpractice cases also involve breaches of fiduciary duty, in which the lawyer fails to observe the duties of loyalty and full disclosure which are required of the lawyer.
There are no caps on damages in legal malpractice cases, except as may be imposed by another Texas statute out of which the case may arise or to which it may be connected.
This category of cases involves primarily automobile or truck collisions and premises liability cases – so called slip and fall cases. These cases usually involve the concept of negligence, as do the medical and legal malpractice cases, and the overall concept of negligence is the failure of a person to use ordinary care in his or her dealings and contacts with others, resulting in harm.
CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
These cases arise under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, a provision contained in the Civil Rights Act. It provides a private cause of action when a person is deprived of rights or liberties secured by the laws in the Constitution of the United States. Doug Perrin has represented several families in cases in New Mexico in which prisoners have died due to jail conditions, inattention of jail personnel, unsafe conditions and improper policies. In these cases, the firm usually associates with the firm of Clark, Jones & Pennington in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Mark has significant experience in business and commercial litigation matters. He was first exposed to this area of the law during his time clerking at one of the state’s appellate courts and it was then his primary emphasis at the large Dallas firm with which he practiced before forming The Perrin Law Firm with Doug. Mark’s clients have ranged from large, national corporations to locally-owned, small businesses. These cases typically involve breach of contract, fraud, or breach of fiduciary duty. The Perrin Law Firm’s cases in this field have involved a variety of industries and issues, including banking, oil and gas, construction, business divorce, and general failures to comply with contractual obligations. The Perrin Law Firm has the experience to handle these matters, and because of its size to handle them more efficiently, and cost-effectively, than many larger firms.
INSURANCE BAD FAITH LITIGATION
Insurance companies are required under Texas law to handle claims submitted by their insureds with good faith. The good faith requirement encompasses many aspects of the claims process, including the time spent, the information considered, and, ultimately, the coverage determination made by the insurance company in its claims process. An insurance company’s failure to adjust a claim in good faith and to provide coverage when coverage is required under the insurance policy can entitle the insured to recovery of not only the money that should have been paid on the claim but also additional damages as penalties as well as recovery of attorneys’ fees. The Perrin Law Firm has handled insurance bad faith litigation on behalf of clients who were insured under ERISA and non-ERISA health plans, commercial general liability policies, and other types of insurance policies. Insurance companies in Texas have dominated the political climate for more than a decade and are more emboldened than ever to ignore the responsibilities owed to their policyholders. The Perrin Law Firm stands ready to assist you if you have not been treated fairly by your insurance company.