Frequently Asked Questions
Question 1. Should I pick a lawyer who advertises?
How do I compare you with the lawyers who advertise as Serious Injury Lawyers? Find out who they are. Find out how many cases that have actually tried before a jury. Find out how many cases they have taken on appeal. Find out what their Rating is from Martindale-Hubbell; unless they have the highest ethical standards, they will not even be rated for legal ability. Ask them if they can get a list of prior clients to talk to. If you know any lawyers, ask them about the attorneys who are trying to entice you with their advertising. If you know any judges, ask them. Roger
Question 2. Wrongful Death
Can we bring a suit to recover damages for the loss of a family member caused by the wrongful actions of another? Yes. Distribution of any recovery of a wrongful death suit in the state of New Mexico is governed by statute, and the recovery is distributed to surviving family members in accordance with the statute. Eaton Law will represent the Personal Representative of the estate of the person who died, but we also have a fiduciary responsibility to make sure that the distribution is in accordance with the statute.
Question 3. I had surgery, but I do not like the scar that was left. Can I sue my surgeon?
I did not get the result that my doctor told me that I would get. Can I sue him for malpractice? Not always.
Medical malpractice is when a doctor or another medical professional - like a nurse or technician - deviates from the standard of care and causes harm.
For example, your doctor may make a mistake diagnosing your illness, or she may not give you the proper treatment or medication for that illness. The key here is the standard of care. This is the generally accepted method or methods used by other medical professionals in the area to treat or care for patients under the same or similar circumstances.
If you can prove your doctor didn't follow or "breached" the standard of care for your particular medical problem, you've made a big first step in making a good medical malpractice claim.
It's not enough that your doctor made some sort of mistake. Before you can file a lawsuit, you have to be able to show that the mistake caused you damage or further harm. The amputation of the wrong limb, brain damage after an operation, a medical condition or disease got worse after treatment, or even death are good examples of injuries or damage. In short, unless you've been harmed, there's no medical malpractice case.
You also have to prove that the injury is connected to the negligence. This is called "causation," meaning your damage or harm was caused by the doctor's mistake. This may be the most difficult - and expensive - part of any medical malpractice case. As a general rule, you'll need at least one expert witness to explain how the mistake caused your injury. These expert witnesses are almost always other doctors or medical professionals.
Experts are also used to help you show the standard of care that applies to your case and how your doctor breached that standard.
Question 4. My prior lawyer missed the Statute of Limitations. Can I sue him?
My prior lawyer failed to file a lawsuit against the driver of the car that rearended mine, and the statute of limitations ran. Can I recover damages from that lawyer? Yes, you can.
If your prior attorney made serious errors, you may sue the lawyer for malpractice. Malpractice means that the lawyer failed to use the ordinary skill and care that would be used by other lawyers in handling a similar problem or case under similar circumstances. In other words, it's not malpractice just because your lawyer lost your case. Some lawyer has to lose every case that is tried. Legal malpractice cases are difficult and complex, because you not only have to prove that the lawyer was negligent, but that you have been harmed and suffered losses by that negligence. Experts are needed for every claim against a lawyer and you will be required to prove that the negligence of the lawyer caused you damages.
Question 5. What will happen if I do not hire a lawyer right away?
My injuries occurred in a collision that happened a year ago. Can I still file a claim? Yes.
While missing a statute of limitations can prevent you from bringing a claim, the fact pattern that you describe indicates that you can still bring a claim. For the most part, Statutes of Limitations in New Mexico are governed by statute. Some of the more common ones are identified below.
Statutes of Limitations for New Mexico
New Mexico N.M. Stat. Ann. § 37-1-1 et seq. Written contract 6 years, Oral contract 4 years, personal Injury 3 years, Property damage 4 years. And claims against public bodies have to be filed within two years and a timely notice also has to be given.
However, trial lawyers like to start working on cases right away, so that the evidence that may be important is still available. Thus, we encourage potential clients to begin the process of obtaining a lawyer immediately after the injuries occurred.
Question 6. But I cannot afford to hire a lawyer
I cannot afford a lawyer or even pay the costs of suit. Can I still get a lawyer to represent me? Yes.
Even if you have no funds to pay for a filing fee, Eaton Law will advance those costs so that you have the access to the courts. And Eaton Law will not sue you for those costs in the event that you do not prevail at trial.
However, the costs are ultimately your responsibility and you could be responsible for the defendant's costs if you proceed to trial and lose. And there may come a time during the preparation for trial where Eaton Law will encourage a settlement that is beneficial to you, because it will allow for the recovery of all of the costs and also allow for a recovery to you for your injuries. In that circumstance, Eaton Law will look to the client for reimbursement of costs that have been incurred.