When an individual is injured by the negligence of another person, they are commonly encouraged to seek out the counsel of a qualified attorney as soon as possible. While there are many reasons for this such as obtaining a better understanding of what you are entitled to and having someone who can help you obtain an award for your damages, one of the most important reasons has to do with what is called the “statute of limitations.”
What is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is a legal concept that prevents an individual from filing a claim once a certain amount of time has passed after an injury has been incurred. In other words, people do not have an indefinite amount of time to receive recovery for their injuries or damage to their property.
The statute of limitations differs dependent upon many factors such as the jurisdiction in which the negligence occurred, the type of the injury, and the severity of the injury. Here is what you should know about the statute of limitations in New Mexico.
Under New Mexico Statutes section 37-1-8, an injured individual has three years to file a lawsuit for “injury to their person.” This includes things such as injury from a slip and fall accident, dog bite, medical malpractice case, or car accident.
What may surprise some is that under New Mexico Statutes section 37-1-4, an individual who has suffered “injuries to property” has more time than for a personal injury: four years to file a civil suit against the individual or group of individuals who are responsible for causing the damage. This includes things such as damage to a house or damage to a person’s vehicle caused by an accident.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Officially Start?
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations begins as soon as the injury occurs (i.e. three years from the time of the accident to file for personal injuries.) However, there are certain circumstances in which this would be unjust. Sometimes an individual may be unaware of their injury for a prolonged period, therefore making it difficult to determine when the injury officially occurred.
This is common among medical malpractice cases, in which a patient does not begin having symptoms or discovers that an earlier medical error (injury) has occurred. In certain situations, the court will apply the discovery rule, in which the statute of limitations begins once the injury is discovered – not when it is first incurred.
Can the Statute of Limitations Ever Be Extended?
When someone waits until after the statute of limitations has passed before they try to bring a lawsuit, they have essentially forfeited their right to a trial and the defendant will likely be granted his or her motion to dismiss the case. There are, however, a few exceptions in which the court may choose to extend the statute:
- The lawsuit could not have been brought against the defendant within the proper time-frame because the defendant has been out of the country or an extended period.
- The plaintiff is a minor, in which case he or she has a year from the date of their 18th birthday to file.
- The plaintiff is mentally incapable, in which case he or she will have one year to file after he or she has been found legally competent once again.
The Attorneys at MPJ Law Firm Help Those in New Mexico Who Have Been Injured by the Negligence of Another
It is imperative that a person who has incurred injury comply with the statute of limitations to receive monetary compensation. That is why it is so important to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable and experienced New Mexico personal injury attorney as soon as possible
At MPJ Law Firm, we understand the importance of getting what you deserve. We work with our clients, striving to achieve the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, fill out a contact form or call us at 505-263-2820 today!
Posted in: Personal Injury