The short answer: it depends. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer is necessary to review your potential case and advise on any specific statute of limitations issues. If you believe that you or a loved one is the victim of medical malpractice it is important that you contact a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible for free consultation and evaluation.
Medical malpractice can occur when a healthcare professional’s negligence or mistake results in harm to a patient. A patient is entitled to receive compensation for injury and damage caused by a healthcare professional or provider. Each state, including New Mexico, has a time limit or statute of limitations, in which the injured party may file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you believe you have a case for medical malpractice, contact the Dominguez Law Firm as soon as possible. If you do not file your case before the time limit expires you will be forever barred from holding a negligent healthcare provider responsible for the injuries and damages, you suffered.
Medical malpractice is often determined by whether the healthcare professional’s actions fell below the accepted standard(s) of care in the healthcare profession. A healthcare professional is a doctor, nurse, medical technician, or other healthcare provider. A healthcare provider is a doctor’s office, clinic, hospital, nursing home, or medical testing facility. In many cases, it is possible to take legal action against several parties that were complicit in or contributed to the harmful actions (or inactions) that caused you or a loved one to suffer an injury.
Common Injuries that Occur in Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice encompasses a wide range of harmful actions or inactions by healthcare professionals or providers. These types of cases often result from mistakes by physicians, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and anyone else who is involved in a patient’s care. Common injuries that result from medical malpractice include:
- Birth-related injuries
- Brain injuries
- Emergency room errors
- Failing to diagnose or misdiagnosis of a condition
- Medication errors
- Nursing home negligence or abuse
- Obstetric and gynecological errors
- Surgical errors
The above is not an exhaustive list; however, the effects of the above injuries on the daily lives of patients can often be drastic. In some cases, patients may require long-term care and can expect ongoing medical bills for the foreseeable future. With a skilled New Mexico medical malpractice attorney by your side, it may be possible to gain peace of mind as you proceed through the claims process.
How Long Does a Patient Have to File a Claim?
Generally, in New Mexico, per NM Stat § 41-5-13 (2020), the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is three years. When the statute of limitations begins depends on several factors:
(1) Discovery Rule
The three-year statute of limitations begins when a negligent act is discovered or should have reasonably been discovered. This rule protects an unwitting medical malpractice victim from the statute of limitations from forever barring their claim if they did not know that the healthcare professional or provider committed medical negligence in their case. It gives the victim or their family time to discover that they or a loved one were in fact a victim of medical malpractice. The three year time limit begins to run once you know or reasonably should have known that medical malpractice was committed.
(2) Qualified Healthcare Provider
Suppose the healthcare professional or healthcare facility is a qualified healthcare provider defined under New Mexico’s Medical Malpractice Act, Sections 41-5-5. In that case, the patient has three years to file a medical malpractice suit. The Qualified Healthcare Provider provision eliminates the Discovery Rule for certain healthcare providers. If a patient discovers a negligent act by a doctor two years after it occurred, the patient has one year to file a medical malpractice suit.
(3) New Mexico Hospital Facility or Healthcare Provider
If the healthcare professional or healthcare provider/facility is a New Mexico state facility or an employee of the State of New Mexico the statute of limitations is two years. Pursuant to the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, §41-4-15 a claim must be brought within two years for medical malpractice against public facilities or employees. A minor child under seven has until his or her ninth birthday in which to file. However, the discovery rule applies to all medical negligence cases brought under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act to protect the innocent victim of medical malpractice from their case being barred if they didn’t know or could not reasonably have known of the medical malpractice. Maestas v. Zager, 2007-NMSC-003.
Are There Certain Circumstances in Which the Statute of Limitations Does Not Apply?
In certain circumstances, New Mexico’s statute of limitations periods for medical malpractice actions may be tolled. “Tolling” means that you can pause the limitations period or delay it if certain conditions exist.
Cases Involving Children
If the patient is below age six, and if the malpractice occurred before their sixth birthday, the statute of limitations would toll until their ninth birthday. If a newborn infant was the victim of a healthcare professional’s negligence, the parents or guardians of the infant have nine years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
If a patient is incapacitated, the statute of limitations would toll until their incapacity is terminated.
Screening Requirements for All Medical Malpractice Suits in New Mexico
Under the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act, Section 41-5-14, all medical malpractice lawsuits against qualified healthcare providers and facilities must be screened by a panel chosen by the New Mexico Medical Review Commission. The panel generally includes three panel members from the medical profession and three panel members from the legal profession. The statute of limitations pauses during the panel review and restarts thirty days after the panel’s final decision.
Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
If the patient or patient’s representative fails to file a medical malpractice suit within the allotted time, the patient will be unable to receive compensation for their injuries. Paul Dominguez will help ensure that you file your claim correctly within the time limits.
Dominguez Law Firm will help gather evidence, set you up with an expert witness who can testify in your case, manage negotiations with the insurer, and represent your interests in court, if necessary. Contact or call Dominguez Law Firm today at 505-596-4481 to set up a free, no-obligation consultation.