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Court Dismisses Medical Malpractice Case Due to Plaintiff’s Failure to Comply with Statute of Limitations

Posted in Firm News

Recently, a California appellate court released its opinion regarding a medical malpractice lawsuit stemming from a 2012 accident. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the plaintiff was a patient at the defendant hospital, and he was being transferred by an ambulance agency, another named defendant. During the transfer, the gurney tipped over, and the plaintiff fell to the ground, suffering several injuries, including fractures to his patella and clavicle.

About two years later, the man filed a lawsuit against the hospital and ambulance agency, alleging several causes of action, including premises liability, negligence, and personal injury. The statute of limitations for general negligence cases in the jurisdiction is two years, but it is only one year for medical malpractice cases. Both defendants filed summary judgment motions, claiming the case was one of medical malpractice and asking the court to dismiss the case. Several months later, the trial court granted the summary judgment motions.

After the court granted the defendants’ motions, the plaintiff then filed an appeal, asking a higher court to review the lower court’s decision to classify his case as a medical malpractice claim. However, the appellate court found that the transfer of the plaintiff on the gurney was “related to” his medical treatment, and therefore the claim should be considered one of medical malpractice. Thus, the one-year statute of limitations applies to both the case against the hospital as well as the case against the ambulance company.

The Importance of Statutes of Limitations in New Mexico Personal Injury Cases

In the event that a person has been injured in an accident, it is very important that the victim notifies the authorities, receives medical treatment, and develops their claims against the culpable party as soon as possible. In New Mexico, as in other states, there are various statutes of limitations that dictate the time that a victim or their representative has to bring a lawsuit after they have been injured. If the victim does not bring a case within that time, the case will not be considered timely and will be dismissed. Barring a few rare exceptions, it is very difficult to bring a case after the statute of limitations has expired. Therefore, it is incredibly important that potential plaintiffs are timely in their filings and abide by the strict timelines.

Generally, in New Mexico, the time for a lawsuit begins to toll when the injury occurred, or in the case of medical malpractice cases, when the person should have reasonably known that the injury occurred. There are some exceptions to this general rule, such as when the injured party is a minor. Specifically, in New Mexico, there is a three-year statute of limitations to bring a personal injury claim. Similarly, there is a three year-time limit to bring a medical malpractice claim.

Have You Been Injured Due to the Negligence of a New Mexico Medical Professional?

If you or a loved one has been injured because of the negligence of a doctor or another medical professional, it is very important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. As the case above illustrates, if a claim is not brought within the required time period, it may be dismissed, even if the case has merit. An attorney at the Fine Law Firm can assist you in developing your medical malpractice case and obtaining the monetary compensation you deserve. Contact an attorney at the Fine Law Firm today to schedule a free initial consultation. Our attorneys may be reached at 505-889-FINE.

More Blog Posts:

State Court Applies “Discovery Rule” to Reverse Dismissal of Wrongful Death Claim, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 12, 2016.

Woman Awarded $1.2 Million Verdict in Grocery Cart Injury Case, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 18, 2016.