Court Enforces Clause in Residential Lease Agreement Limiting the Amount of Time the Tenant Had to File a Lawsuit

In all New Mexico personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff must commence their lawsuit within a certain amount of time. Under New Mexico Statutes section 37-1-8, the statute of limitations for a New Mexico personal injury lawsuit is three years. Section 41-5-13 provides the same three-year statute of limitations for New Mexico medical malpractice cases.

These deadlines are of critical importance to all New Mexico personal injury plaintiffs because a plaintiff’s failure to file their case by the relevant deadline will result in the case being dismissed. There are, however, exceptions to the general rules that govern when a case must be filed. For example, if the plaintiff is a minor, the plaintiff’s injuries are not immediately discovered, or the defendant has concealed some aspect of their own potential negligence, the statute of limitations may not begin to run until a later date.

Another interesting issue involving statutes of limitations is whether the parties can contractually reduce or extend the amount of time they have to file a lawsuit against each other. States vary on whether this is permitted, and the determination is very fact-specific. However, in a recent case, a court dismissed a plaintiff’s case based on her agreement to a reduced statute of limitations.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a resident of an apartment complex that was owned by the defendant. One day, a curb crumbled as the plaintiff stepped on it, resulting in the plaintiff sustaining serious injuries. The plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant a few days before the two-year statute of limitations had run.

The defendant argued that the plaintiff filed her case too late, pointing to a clause in the residential lease agreement that the plaintiff had signed prior to moving in. The clause stated that, by signing, the plaintiff agreed that “any legal action against [the defendant] must be instituted within one year of the date any claim or cause of action arises.”

The plaintiff argued that the clause should not apply to personal injury lawsuits and should be limited to causes of action involving a breach of contract only. However, the court disagreed, noting that the agreement specifically used the language “any legal action.” Thus, the plaintiff’s case was dismissed by the court. The court also noted that state law allows for parties to contractually modify a statute of limitations.

Have You Been Injured in a New Mexico Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated New Mexico personal injury lawyers at the Fine Law Firm have decades of experience handling complex personal injury matters, including those involving disputed statutes of limitations. To learn more, call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and to see how we may be able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

More Blog Posts:

Appellate Court Remands Case in Plaintiff’s Favor in Recent Premises Liability Action, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 23, 2017.

Court Finds Plaintiff Waived Challenge to Jury’s Verdict By Failing to Object, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 6, 2018.