The deadlines can vary depending upon a number of variables depending upon the nature of the medical provider.
Claims Against Private Healthcare Providers
Claims against private medical providers will have a 3 year statute of limitations. However, there may be differences is when the statute of limitations will begin to run depending upon whether the provider is a qualified healthcare provider (QHP).
First, “qualified healthcare provider” does not mean what you might think. It simply means that the provider participates in insurance program under the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act.
For qualified healthcare providers, the statute of limitations begins to run at the time of the negligent medical act. Of course, the medical negligence might not be readily apparent to the patient (i.e. undiagnosed cancer).
Under the discovery rule that applies for providers that are not QHP, patients are protected. The discovery rule means that the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the medical error is discovered or should have been discovered.
The discovery rule does not apply to QHP’s leading to severely unjust results for injured patients and families.
Claims Against Governmental Healthcare Providers
For malpractice claims against governmental medical providers, there are a couple of hurdles placed in front of patients.
The statute of limitations is only 2 years on these claims. However, the deadline that causes the most harm to patients and families is the Tort Claims Notice deadline. The Tort Claims Notice deadline is only 90 days on a personal injury claim and 6 months on a wrongful death claim.
Missing any of these deadlines will bar the claims.
Claims Against Public Health Providers (i.e. Free Medical Providers)
A relatively obscure hurdle has been created under the Public Health Service Act. Public health providers are basically free clinics and other medical care providers for the poor.
These entities enjoy protection under the Federal Tort Claims Act. This means there is only a 2 year statute of limitations. Worse yet, many lawyers are unaware of the rule because the providers are private entities often associated with major medical care providers. In short, there is no reason to suspect that these would have special protections. Worse still, it is not easy to determine which providers enjoy the protection unless you know where to look.
This rule is incredibly unfair to injured patients. It is shockingly discriminatory toward the poor. Unfortunately, it is the law so if you have received free medical care, you need to be alert to the possibility that the provider is protected.
An Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help
Any personal injury claim can be challenging. Medical malpractice claims in particular can be very difficult with many possible traps. It is important to have the guidance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
The Albuquerque attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. can be reached at (505) 242-5958.