In New Mexico, many of the hospitals, clinics and other medical provider facilities are run by State, county or local government. All claims against the government, including those for medical malpractice, fall under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act.
This is extremely important to understand. The fact that a governmental entity is involved means that there are shorter deadlines. In cases of medical malpractice claims against government entities, these deadlines can be very short. Worse yet, it is not always clear whether government entities are involved.
The Albuquerque Attorneys at Collins & Collins, P.C. will help to determine if governmental facilities are involved. In the event that they are, we can help you understand and ensure that you meet those deadlines.
New Mexico Tort Claims Act
The New Mexico Tort Claims Act has very important deadlines not present in claims against private doctors or facilities.
Under most medical malpractice claims in New Mexico, the statute of limitations is 3 years. The 3 year statute of limitations applies to all personal injury claims against private parties, including claims against doctors and medical facilities.
Shorter Statute of Limitations on Claims Against the Government
Under the Tort Claims Act, the statute of limitations in medical malpractice claims against government run medical providers is only 2 years.
This means that a lawsuit must be filed within 2 years of the date of alleged negligence or the claim against the government facility is barred completely.
Tort Claims Notice Requirement Only 90 Days
Well before the 2 years statute of limitations will become an issue, there is a Tort Claims Notice requirement for all claims against the government. Under the Tort Claims Act, a Tort Claims Notice must be sent to the defendant’s medical facility or provider putting them on notice of the potential medical malpractice claim.
The deadline can be very short. In cases of personal injury, the deadline for the Tort Claims Notice runs in only 90 days from the date of the alleged negligent act. In cases of wrongful death, the Tort Claims Notice deadline is extended to 6 months. However, this is still a very short deadline.
This means that a Notice must be sent to the relevant entities stating the existence of the claim, the date of the alleged act of negligence, the nature of the negligence, and the entity or individual responsible for the negligence. This Notice requirement is very strict and failure to properly send the Notice will bar the claim against the facility completely.
Deadlines are Firm
These deadlines can come up pretty quickly. The 90 day or even the 6 month deadline are both very short and it is not uncommon for patients to miss this deadline.
The delay can result from the fact that the family is dealing with many more much more pressing issues related to the injuries or death of a loved one. Or the injured person or family may simply be indecisive on whether or not to pursue a claim for medical malpractice.
No matter what the cause of the delay, missing a deadline will bar the claims against the governmental entity. Keep in mind that there may still be claims against the doctors directly even though claims against the governmental entity are barred.
An Attorney Can Help
If you or a loved one have been injured or killed by the negligence of a doctor, you may likely have many things on your mind other than deadlines on your medical malpractice claims.
An attorney experienced in medical malpractice can take these burdens on for you while you attend to more pressing matters. Specifically, the attorney will insure that the Tort Claims Notice is sent out in a timely manner.
And if you have missed the deadline, the attorney can help to explain your options moving forward.