A ruling handed down earlier this year shows that New Mexico personal injury lawsuits can be difficult for an individual to prosecute without having the benefit of experienced counsel. As the ruling explains, a litigant needs to pay court filing fees or achieve leave to proceed without paying fees, the litigant’s complaint needs to state a claim under applicable law including a basis for the court’s exercise of jurisdiction, and the complaint needs to be served on defendants.
The court’s ruling followed the filing of a complaint by a plaintiff acting pro se, a term referring to an individual acting on his or her own behalf. The plaintiff sued a supermarket chain, alleging that he fell and injured himself because the defendant had failed to remedy a foreseeable hazard. The plaintiff further alleged that but for the negligence of the supermarket chain in failing to keep its premises safe, the plaintiff would not have fallen and exacerbated his pre-existing conditions. The plaintiff also alleged that the inactions of the defendant’s management were the proximate and direct causes of the injuries he had sustained.
The plaintiff filed an application seeking to proceed without paying fees or costs, referred to as an application to proceed in forma pauperis. The court granted the motion based on the plaintiff’s alleged inability to pay, which the plaintiff documented in an affidavit. The court also took the opportunity to explain what needed to happen before the plaintiff could proceed with his lawsuit.