Many states have some form of governmental immunity, which is a privilege that prevents the government from being sued in a tort lawsuit. Oftentimes, under this doctrine the government may only be sued if it specifically grants permission to be sued. Like the majority of other states, New Mexico has its own Tort Claims Act which addresses issues of “sovereign immunity.”
In New Mexico, this Act prevents many tort claims against the government, unless the suit falls into a very specific exception. In many instances, an individual may attempt to bring a suit against the government when they have been injured on what they perceive as a dangerously designed or maintained road. However, in New Mexico the Tort Claims Act prevents individuals from bringing a suit against the government under the theory that the government did not safely design a roadway or highway.
Although those types of suits are barred, an individual may bring a suit against the government if they can establish it failed to adequately maintain the road. For example, a person will not likely succeed in a claim against the government if they claim that the accident was caused because drivers could not see oncoming traffic while approaching a curve. However, if a plaintiff claims that the road was not properly maintained because there were known to be potholes on the road’s surface that were not repaired, the claim may be viable. Therefore, it can be very important how a plaintiff’s case is plead in his or her initial filing.