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New Mexico Civil Statute of Limitations Laws

Civil statutes of limitations set the maximum amount of time a plaintiff has to start a legal proceeding. The "clock starts ticking" on the date of the alleged offense. There are also criminal statutes of limitations. Each type of claim (and criminal charge) can have a different time limit, from contract breaches to medical malpractice.

When Does the Time Limit Begin?

The clock for filing a lawsuit starts when the victim knew or should have known they suffered a harm.

For example, a girl has a tonsillectomy when she's 11 years old. She had a car accident ten years later. An x-ray shows a metal object lodged in her throat from the tonsillectomy. The statute of limitations for a suit against the tonsillectomy surgeon would start the day she discovered the metal object.

But let's say she'd been having throat trouble for many years and did nothing about it. In that case, her failure to get her throat checked could bar her claim.

This rule is the discovery of harm rule. It generally doesn't come into play in common personal injury claims, like car accidents and slip-and-falls.

Extending the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations will not start in some situations. This delay effectively extends or "tolls" the statute of limitations.

The most common reason that tolls the statute of limitations is when the person harmed is legally incapacitated. Incapacity is when someone is a minor or has a disability. Injured children don't have the clock start until they're no longer minors.

For example, suppose someone is hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for many years. The hospital staff sexually abused them while they were there. It would be unfair to expect them to have the mental capacity to sue the hospital for its staff's wrongdoing.

Once the incapacitated person turns 18 or regains their sanity, the statute starts to run. But the plaintiff only gets one additional year to sue after turning 18 or recovering from their disability.

Suing the Government

Federal, state, and local governments have immunity to some lawsuits. That means a harmed individual can't sue them for some things. In cases when someone can sue the government, the law may limit what they can recover.

The statute of limitations for injury claims against the government could also be shorter than it is for other defendants. So, if a government agency or employee has harmed you, you need to talk to a knowledgeable New Mexico litigation attorney.

The following chart lists some common statutes of limitations for civil cases in New Mexico.


4 years (NMS § 37-1-4)

Libel or Slander

3 years (NMS § 37-1-8)

Injury to Person

3 years (NMS § 37-1-8)If against the government, 2 years plus a 90-day tort claim notice from the date of accident if against the government (NMS §§ 37-1-24)

Injury to Personal Property

4 years (NMS § 37-1-4)


4 years (NMS § 37-1-4)

Professional Malpractice

Medical Malpractice: 3 years (NMS § 41-5-13)Legal Malpractice: 4 years

Collection of Debt on Account

4 years (NMS § 37-1-4)


Written contracts: 6 years (NMS § 37-1-3)Oral Contracts: 4 years (NMS § 37-1-4)


14 years from the date of judgment for court judgments (NMS § 37-1-2), otherwise it's 6 years for written contracts (NMS § 37-1-3)

Child Sexual Abuse

Claims related to actions that would be considered criminal child sexual penetration, contract, or exploitation must be brought by the victim's 24th birthday or three years from the date the person disclosed the sexual abuse to a licensed medical or mental health provider while receiving health care from the provider (NMS § 37-1-30)

Other Actions

Typically, if it's not provided in these statutes, the statute of limitations is 4 years (NMS § 37-1-4)

This table can be a wake-up call. You should consult an experienced New Mexico litigation attorney if you have a legal claim. If you wait too long, you could lose the ability to bring your claim. Keep these dates in mind if you're worried about something that happened several years ago.

Note: State laws are revised regularly by state legislators, federal law changes, and state referendums. Please contact an attorney or do your own research to verify these laws.

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Contact an Attorney To Help File Your Case on Time

New Mexico's civil statute of limitations depends on the circumstances of your case and the cause of action you will be pleading. An experienced attorney can find the correct cause of action and ensure you file your suit before the deadline. Consult with a New Mexico litigation attorney to discuss your case and receive personalized legal advice.

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