What is the New Mexico Statute of Limitations?
Read our blog to learn how the New Mexico Statutes of Limitations may affect your eligibility to file a personal injury claim and your chances of receiving financial compensation for your injuries.
Have you ever heard the term “statute of limitations”? In connection with personal injury claims, this phrase refers to the period of time an accident victim has to file a claim or lawsuit against the party deemed responsible for the injury. Once that period has expired, the injured person effectively forfeits his or her right to a personal injury claim and may lose any chance to obtain financial compensation.
Statute of limitations laws are one of the key reasons why personal injury attorneys encourage their potential clients to start working toward their claim without any unnecessary delay. On the other hand, some injury victims may have valid reasons to wait before taking legal action. Others may also want to evaluate their options first and make a more informed decision. However, how long can you wait before the statute of limitations expires and you no longer have the right to file a claim?
The answer to this question depends on the specific state laws as well as the nature of the injury and the potential legal claim. In this article, we briefly review the statutes of limitations in New Mexico. Read on to learn how much time you have to file your claim to ensure the compensation you deserve.
New Mexico Statute of Limitations Laws and the Discovery Rule
The statute of limitations varies from case to case. In New Mexico, the victim of an injury caused by another person’s negligence or recklessness must bring legal action against the at-fault party within three years from the moment the injury has occurred. In the case of claims related only to property damage—that is, “injury to real or personal property through another’s negligence or willful destruction”—the owner of the damaged property has four years to file a lawsuit.
Some injuries are not quick to manifest themselves and only become obvious to the victim weeks or even months after the accident. For example, this happens in cases involving medical conditions that may have been caused or aggravated by medical malpractice. Even in the case of car crashes and similar accidents, the full extent of the injuries suffered and their effect on the life of the victim may not become known until later on.
In such circumstances, the injured party may sometimes invoke the so-called discovery rule. The application of this rule means that the statute of limitations will be applied not from the time of the accident itself, but rather from the moment the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.
Important Exceptions to the Statutes of Limitations
The three-year statute of limitations applies to all kinds of personal injury claims, including medical malpractice, wrongful death claims, or product liability cases. However, New Mexico State Law provides for three different situations where the statutes of limitations can be exceptionally extended.
These include the following circumstances:
- When the injured party is a minor—In such cases, the statute of limitations doesn’t apply until the victim turns 18; after that, he or she has one year to file the injury claim
- When the injured party is incapacitated—The statute of limitations doesn’t apply until the victim can be deemed legally capable; the injured party will have one year to file the claim once no longer incapacitated
- When the at-fault party is out of state or concealed—The statute of limitations doesn’t apply under these circumstances
Why You Should Consider Filing a Claim Without Delay
Some injury victims may feel like three years is a considerable period of time, so they postpone taking any action toward their compensation claim. Of course, at times a delay may be justified. For example, victims may need to wait until they have recovered from their injuries to adequately evaluate the extent of the damages—financial and otherwise.
However, in any case, it is usually best to contact an attorney and obtain legal advice as soon as possible. A competent personal injury lawyer may be able to assist you in finding a trusted medical professional best-suited to help you achieve recovery as soon as possible. In addition, delaying the claim unnecessarily may be used by the at-fault party to minimize or even to question the entire validity of your claim.
Preparing a personal injury lawsuit is a complicated process. It requires a lot of preparation and research on the part of the attorney representing you. The more time you have before the statute of limitations runs out, the more likely you will be able to prepare a strong claim that is likely to prevail in court.