Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Claims
The statue of limitations on most personal injury claims in 3 years from the date of the injury. In most cases, with few exceptions, the 3 years is rigid and not subject to negotiation.
In cases against state, county and local government, the statute of limitations is only 2 years. The shorter period applies under New Mexico's Tort Claims Act. Like the standard statute of limitations, there are few exceptions to the rule.
In either case, whether it is 2 or 3 years, it is extremely important not to miss these deadlines. A lawsuit must be filed before the deadline runs. Failure to file a lawsuit within the deadline will bar the claim completely.
These deadlines might appear to be long. They are not, particularly in cases of serious personal injury. Medical treatment may go for months or years. It is impossible to evaluate or settle a claim without a true measure of recoverable damages as evidenced by medical treatment and recovery.
Once medical treatment is completed, and maximum medical improvement is reached, it can take months to collect all the necessary medical documentation to make a claim. These would include all medical records, medical bills, impairment ratings and the like. In addition, in cases of serious personal injuries, there is often lost income. This too must be documented, often requiring an expert to calculate lifetime lost earnings based upon permanent injuries and permanent impairment ratings.
All of this takes a long time to accomplish. Two or three years will come up quickly in cases of serious personal injury. Filing suit on time is critical. On the other hand, filing suit too early may not be advisable since full documentation of each and every injury and element of damages should be complete or substantially completed prior to filing suit. The statute of limitations period come up fast, court deadlines after filing suit come up even faster and with greater frequency. It is not generally advisable to enter into litigation without substantial preparation in advance.
In most cases except those involving minor injuries and minimal damages, it is advisable to see the assistance of a personal injury attorney. Please be advised that many personal injury attorneys, including Collins & Collins, P.C., will be extremely reluctant to take a case when these deadlines are close to expiring. Significant delay will make it exceedingly difficult to obtain legal assistance. Failure to meet the deadlines will bar the claims completely.