Case taken to New Mexico Supreme Court due to legal malpractice
A high school student was injured at school as a result of the school’s failure to maintain its premises in a safe manner. The student and his parents initially hired another law firm to represent the student in a possible lawsuit against the school and the school district. However, the law firm they hired missed the deadline within which they had to file the lawsuit; because the law firm missed the applicable statute of limitations, the student lost his ability to sue the school and school district for their acts of negligence.
Statutes of limitations require an injured person to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party within a specified time period prescribed by statute or lose their right to file suit altogether. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to protect possible defendants from the burden of defending against stale claims while allowing adequate time for an injured person to pursue lawful claims. In New Mexico, claims brought against governmental entities and public employees are governed by the New Mexico Tort Claims Act. While governmental entities and public employees would typically be shielded from liability by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the New Mexico Legislature has recognized that it would be inherently unfair to protect governmental entities and public employees from liability for negligence under all circumstances. Accordingly, the New Mexico Tort Claims Act permits governmental entities and public employees to be sued in certain situations. Pursuant to the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, a person injured by the negligence of the government or a public employee, including a public school or school district, must file suit within two years of the date of injury or forever lose his or her right to bring a lawsuit.
In this case, because the law firm missed the applicable statute of limitations, the student was unable to sue the school and school district for his injuries. The student subsequently hired Will Ferguson & Associates to pursue a legal malpractice claim against the first law firm. Will Ferguson & Associates took the case up to the New Mexico Supreme Court and ultimately obtained compensation for our client despite our client’s lost ability to obtain compensation from the negligent school.