Procedural Issues That Could Hurt Your Albuquerque Personal Injury Case

New Mexico, as well as every other state, divides legal issues into two categories-–substantive issues and procedural issues. Substantive issues revolve around a party’s rights, duties, and liabilities, while procedural issues revolve around the steps necessary to enforce these rights, duties, and liabilities. 

Following are some examples of common procedural issues that could impact your personal injury case in Albuquerque, NM.

Dismissal for Failure To State a Claim

To win a personal injury lawsuit, you must know how to state a claim in a formal lawsuit complaint. It’s not enough to assert that the defendant was negligent, for example. You must specifically state that the defendant’s negligence caused your injury. 

Courts look at it this way: assuming that every claim in your lawsuit complaint is true, is the defendant liable for damages? If the answer is no, the court will dismiss your complaint for “failure to state a claim.”

Sometimes, failure to state a claim is a cosmetic defect in a lawsuit complaint. The court will dismiss your complaint, you will amend it by rewriting it to state an actual claim, and your lawsuit can proceed. 

In other cases, failure to state a claim reveals an underlying defect in your claim—you have no evidence that you suffered a physical injury, for example. In that case, dismissal for failure to state a claim will end your case. 

Expiration of the Statute of Limitations Period 

The statute of limitations tells you how long you can wait to file a lawsuit after an accident. The deadline is different in every state. In New Mexico, you usually have until three years after the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. If the victim died in the accident, you have until two years after the victim’s date of death. 

There are a few exceptions to this rule  If you miss the deadline and no exception applies, however, your claim will be dead in the water. You won’t even be able to negotiate a private settlement.

Improper Service of Process

You must notify the defendant of your lawsuit by having a neutral third party deliver a copy of your complaint and the court summons. Typically, the third party must deliver these documents to the defendant in person. This is known as “service of process.” A court will dismiss your lawsuit if you fail to properly complete service of process. 

Suing in the Wrong Court

You must sue the defendant in a court with subject matter jurisdiction over your claim. You can’t file a personal injury lawsuit in a bankruptcy court, for example. The court must also have  personal jurisdiction over the defendant. 

If you live in Maine, the defendant lives in Georgia, and the accident occurred in Texas, for example, you cannot file a personal injury claim in a New Mexico court.  

Res Judicata

The Latin term ‘res judicata’ literally means ‘a thing decided.’ Once your lawsuit is decided, or both parties sign a settlement agreement, you can’t change your mind and seek more money later. 

Suppose, for example, that you won $200,000 because your injuries caused you to have to retire early. Ten years later, you run out of money and realize that you should have asked for more money. If you try to file a new lawsuit, the court will dismiss it based on res judicata.

Other Possible Procedural Barriers

There are many more possible procedural barriers, including:

  • You failed to provide proper notice in a lawsuit against the government;
  • You refused to cooperate in the pretrial discovery discovery process; or
  • You failed to raise a timely objection at trial (thereby preventing a successful appeal).
  • Any of these procedural errors, and many more, could sink your claim. 

Don’t Let Procedural Issues Ruin Your Case

In many cases, substantive issues are a matter of ‘common sense.’ Procedural issues, by contrast, are seldom intuitively obvious. Unfortunately, a serious procedural issue can destroy an otherwise valid claim. The best way to avoid a procedural problem is to retain the services of an experienced Albuquerque personal injury lawyer.

Contact the New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyers at Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers Today

If you were injured in an accident in Albuquerque, NM, and need legal help, contact our Albuquerque personal injury attorneys at Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free case review today.

Curiel & Runion Personal Injury Lawyers
400 Gold Avenue SW, Suite 650
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 594-3621