There are several state agencies in New Mexico that explicitly exist to protect the public. For example, the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) performs the crucial role of investigating abuse allegations and intervening on behalf of those too vulnerable to protect themselves.
Generally, family members would prefer to avoid the attention of the CYFD because this entity has the authority to remove children from a family and terminate parental rights. However, there are scenarios in which families would prefer that CYFD take an active role in intervening to protect someone. For example, grandparents might call the CYFD specifically because they believe their grandchildren are in a dangerous situation.
How long do you have to take civil action against state agencies like the CYFD if they fail in their duties?
Whenever an individual, business or government entity breaks the law or commits some kind of actionable negligence, a clock starts ticking. Those affected by the misconduct or negligence have to take action in a timely manner or risk losing their rights to pursue justice in the civil courts.
Under New Mexico state law, those hoping to pursue a lawsuit against a state agency like the CYFD for negligence or failing in its duties will only have two years from the precipitating incident. Given that it can take months to navigate family court and longer to understand the full impact of an agency’s failure, some families run the risk of delaying their action for so long that they can no longer demand justice in the civil courts. Timely action is necessary.
If negligence or misconduct by state employees has harmed a member of your family, you may have grounds for a claim against the agency involved. For example, if you called and provided specific details of child abuse to workers at the CYFD hoping to protect your grandchild or your niece from a terrible home environment and they failed, your family could have rights if something horrible happens later.
Failures by state agencies can lead to life-altering injuries for children and other vulnerable people in dangerous home environments. In some tragic situations, the failures of state agencies result in someone dying. The people affected or their surviving family members may have a right to ask for compensation when a New Mexico state agency directly contributes to a poor outcome for the family.
Understanding the limitations on personal injury claims brought against state agencies can help those trying to hold government entities accountable for their recent failures.