Statutes of Limitations Apply Equally to Claims Made on behalf of Children
The statute of limitations on New Mexico personal injury claims is rigid. There are very few and extremely limited exceptions. The statute of limitations is no less rigid in cases filed on behalf of children.
The statute of limitations on personal injury claims, including medical malpractice claims, is 3 years on claims against private medical providers and 2 years on claims against governmental providers.
Missing these deadlines will bar the claim completely. This is so in all personal injury claims, including those on behalf of children. However, children do get some relief in the terms of when the statute of limitations will begin to run. Unfortunately, depending on the type of medical provider, the relief can be grossly inadequate for the protection of an injured child.
Statute of Limitations Deadlines Extended for Retinopathy of Prematurity
As suggested, the statute of limitations is extended on personal injury claims filed on behalf of children. This holds true for medical malpractice claims as well. By definition, retinopathy of prematurity strikes children. As such, the statute of limitations is extended on medical malpractice claims related to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).
The duration of the extension will depend on the type of medical provider. The limitations will differ depending upon whether the medical provider is a private provider, a governmental provider, or a qualified healthcare provider. We will address each in turn.
Medical Malpractice Claims Against Private Medical Providers
There are two types of private medical providers: qualified healthcare providers and non-qualified healthcare providers. To be a qualified healthcare provider, the provider must simply comply with some fairly nominal insurance provisions under the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act.
For those that do not opt into the insurance program and do not qualify for qualified healthcare provider status, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims made on behalf of children runs when the child turns 19.
This provides some protection for children who have suffered injuries from medical malpractice, including injuries associated with retinopathy of prematurity. Some wrongly assume the statute of limitations is 3 years from the 18th birthday.
Though this would seem to make sense, it is absolutely not the case. A misunderstanding of the law will not provide any relief. Missing the statue of limitations will bar the claim.
Medical Malpractice Claims Against Governmental Medical Providers
As with all personal injury claims against governmental entities, there are unique statute of limitations rules for medical malpractice claims made on behalf of children.
Under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, NMSA §41-4-15, the statute of limitations on claims against a governmental medical provider for a child under the age of 7 is extended until his or her 9th birthday to file a claim.
Essentially, the 2-year statute of limitations begins to run when the child turns 7. This means the statute of limitations remains 2 years for children 7 or older.
This is ridiculous since a child cannot possibly bring a claim when they are 9, 10, 11… They are completely reliant on their parents.
Medical Malpractice Claims Against Qualified Healthcare Providers
The New Mexico Tort Claims Act is intrinsically unfair to those harmed by governmental negligence, including medical malpractice on the part of governmental doctors or other medical providers. The New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act is equally unfair in the case of the negligence of qualified healthcare providers.
There are many aspects of the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act that are highly detrimental to the rights of injured patients. We will discuss only the statute of limitations here.
The New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act, NMSA § 41-5-13, extends the statute of limitations for a child under the age of 6 to the child’s 9th birthday. Again, the magic number is 9, as if a 9 year old could bring a medical malpractice claim.
And again, the only relief comes to those under the age of 6. For all other children, the 3-year statute of limitations will apply. Naturally, it makes sense to protect negligent medical providers at the expense of innocent children harmed by medical malpractice.
Do Not Delay!
If your child has suffered injuries as a result of retinopathy of prematurity, it is very important to immediately take action. The statutes of limitations can run at age 9 depending on the type of medical provider.
It is important to consult with an attorney experienced in medical malpractice to determine which statute of limitations will apply to your child’s claims.