What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in New Mexico?
First, we should explain that a “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a strict deadline for the filing of a civil lawsuit after the plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit) has suffered some type of harm. These deadlines differ depending on the kind of case being filed, but the time limits are almost always expressed in years.
Now, onto the law in New Mexico. New Mexico Statutes Annotated section 37-1-8 sets the statute of limitations that will apply to almost all injury lawsuits arising from a vehicle accident. This law gives you three years to ask New Mexico’s civil court system for a remedy for any kind of personal injury caused by someone else.
So, in the context of a car accident, that means any lawsuit by any driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian injured in the crash will be subject to this three-year filing deadline, and the “clock” starts running on the date of the accident.
If anyone was killed as a result of the car accident, New Mexico Statutes Annotated section 42-2-2 also sets a three-year statute of limitations deadline for any wrongful death claim that might be brought by the deceased person’s family. The main difference is that, for these kinds of claims, the three-year “clock” starts running on the date of the accident victim’s death (as opposed to the date of the accident itself). Learn more about Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New Mexico.
Finally, if you had your vehicle or other personal property damaged as a result of the car accident, New Mexico Statutes Annotated section 37-1-4 says that any lawsuit over that damage must be filed within four years of the date of the vehicle accident.
(Keep in mind that regardless of the basis for bringing the lawsuit -- whether it’s an injury, a death, or just damage to a vehicle -- the success of the case will almost certainly hinge on your ability to prove that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of the crash. Learn more about Proving Fault for a Car Accident.)
If you try to file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations deadline has already passed, the defendant is sure to ask the court to dismiss the case, and the court is very likely to agree that a dismissal is appropriate.
From a strategy standpoint, you always want to make sure you have plenty of time to file a lawsuit, even if you’re pretty sure you’ll reach a car accident settlement. If you have all of your options open -- and the other side knows it -- you’ll have more leverage during settlement talks. So if the filing deadline is approaching, it may be time to talk with an experienced New Mexico car accident attorney.