New Mexico resident dies in Colorado due to medical neglagence – $800,000.00+ settlement
A New Mexico resident was sent to a Colorado hospital for emergency surgery due to an unchecked jaw infection. During an attempted retrieval of a piece of medical equipment that had improperly been allowed to break off inside the man’s body, the man was deprived of oxygen for a significant amount of time despite the presence of several physicians in the operating room. As a result of the oxygen deprivation, the man suffered severe brain damage and ultimately died.
The man’s family hired Will Ferguson & Associates to get justice on behalf of their loved one for negligently causing his death and Will Ferguson & Associates brought a wrongful death and personal injury action against the physicians and the Colorado hospital. Although the man lived in New Mexico, the negligence of the physicians which caused the man’s death occurred in Colorado. Such circumstances raise the question as to which state’s law will apply to govern the lawsuit. In a tort action, New Mexico generally follows the doctrine of lex loci delicti; according to this doctrine, the law of the place where the crime or wrong took place governs the action. According to this doctrine, Colorado law would apply to govern the family’s claims since the negligence of the physicians, and the man’s death, occurred in Colorado. However, the wrongful death law in Colorado is very different from the wrongful death law in New Mexico. For example, New Mexico law does not cap the amount of damages which can be recovered from someone who negligently causes another person’s death. In Colorado, on the other hand, such damages are capped very low. Will Ferguson & Associates challenged application of Colorado’s law to the family’s action as being against New Mexico’s public policy and, although Colorado law was found to apply, still secured a settlement for our client near the amount of damages allowed in Colorado for a wrongful death action.