If you’re considering taking legal action because you’ve been physically injured or harmed in some other way due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. In addition to physical injury, people can suffer emotional or psychological harm when someone is negligent. In some cases, a defective product (instead of a person) causes the injury or harm; for instance, faulty automobiles, high chairs, kitchen appliances and medical devices cause injuries to thousands upon thousands of people in the United States every year.
What is a statute of limitations?
Many people injured by the negligence of others will seek legal counsel to recover compensation for their injuries, but in order to receive compensation, the legal action must take place within the statute of limitations for that particular type of case. Think of a statute of limitations as the period of time in which someone has to take legal action after being injured by a person or product. Failure to file a lawsuit within that time period will result in the claim being barred.
New Mexico’s personal injury statute of limitations
In personal injury law, which is an umbrella term that includes more specific cases like medical malpractice and product liability, the statutes of limitations vary with each type of case and in each state. In New Mexico, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is three years.
New Mexico’s medical malpractice statute of limitations
These time periods can be a bit confusing to the lay person, especially in cases of medical malpractice. For this reason, it’s vital that you seek out an experienced medical malpractice attorney who will advise you on whether or not you have a case and how to proceed.
In New Mexico, the patient has three years from the date of the negligent action to file a suit against the medical professional(s). However, if the injured party is under the age of six, he has until his ninth birthday to file a medical malpractice claim.
Unlike when a defective airbag explodes on a certain date at a specific time, knowing the exact time of injury in a medical malpractice case is a bit trickier. For example, if a surgeon left a sponge in a body cavity during a surgery in 2010, the person may not show signs of illness for several years after the negligent act. So, since the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is only three years, does that three-year time period start from the day of the surgical mistake, or from the day the person discovers he/she is sick due to a decaying sponge in the body?
New Mexico’s product liability statute of limitations
Product liability cases in New Mexico also have a three-year statute of limitations, and these cases are usually much more clear-cut because most defective products cause injuries on specific dates and at specific times. One exception to this “rule” is defective medical devices or drugs that may take months and often years to make a person ill.
New Mexico’s statute of limitations for breach of contract cases
One area of law that has a longer statute of limitations is “breach of contract” with a statute of limitations of six years for a written contract breach and four years for a breach of a verbal contract. Criminal cases in New Mexico are a whole different area and include a number of different time periods to file criminal charges for assault, rape or murder.