If you suffer injuries or property damage in a car accident in New Mexico, you only have a limited amount of time to file a claim for financial damages. Like all states, New Mexico has a time limit on the right to file, known as a statute of limitations. If you miss your deadline, you may forfeit the right to recover financial compensation for your crash forever.
What Are New Mexico’s Statutes of Limitations on Car Accident Claims?
In New Mexico, the time limit for filing a car accident lawsuit is three years. New Mexico Statutes Annotated Section 37-1-8 sets a deadline of three years from the date the car accident occurred to file a personal injury claim, in most cases. The three-year deadline applies to cases involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.
Your deadline to file a car accident claim may be different, however, depending on the type of lawsuit:
- If you are filing a wrongful death claim, you will have three years from the date of your loved one’s death, if this is different from the date of the car accident.
- If you have a property-damage-only lawsuit, you have four years from the date of the crash to file a claim in New Mexico.
- If you are bringing a case against the government in New Mexico, the time limit is two years of the date of injury.
It is important to note that New Mexico’s statutes of limitations do not apply to car accident insurance claims; only personal injury lawsuits related to motor vehicle accidents. Rather than having a legal time limit to file an insurance claim, you must abide by the rules set by the car insurance company. Typically, insurance companies require crash reporting as soon as possible – ideally, within 24 hours of the collision.
What Happens If You Miss Your Timeline?
It is imperative to file your car accident claim in New Mexico by the applicable time limit. If you wait too long and the statute of limitations expires, the person or party you are trying to hold accountable (the defendant) can use this as a defense against liability.
For the most part, the courts in New Mexico will refuse to hear a claim that is brought past its deadline. This means you will be unable to recover financial compensation, even if you have proof that another driver caused your crash.
If the courts do agree to take your case, expect the defendant to bring up this defense during litigation. Unless your case stands as an exception to the rule, the missed deadline will be enough to render your claim invalid and bar you from financial recovery in New Mexico.
Are There Exceptions to the Rule?
Yes, there are exceptions to New Mexico’s time limits on car accident claims. However, these exceptions are rare and not to be expected in the average car accident case. One exception is the discovery rule. This rule states that if you do not discover your injuries right away, the three-year clock does not start ticking until the date you discovered or reasonably should have discovered your injury.
There is another exception for car accident victims who are minors. A minor in New Mexico has three years after the car accident or one year after the minor reaches the age of majority (18 in New Mexico) to file – whichever is longer. A car accident attorney can help you find out if an exception applies to your specific case.
Contact an Attorney – It Might Not Be Too Late
New Mexico’s statutes of limitations are complicated, and the laws are constantly changing. Do not assume you have already missed your deadline to file a car accident claim without consulting with an attorney first. A car accident lawyer in Albuquerque can review your case and let you know whether or not it is too late to file a personal injury lawsuit. If not, a lawyer can help you with the claims paperwork for the most efficient legal process possible.