Losing someone dear to you can leave you wondering what to do next. Apart from having to deal with the fact that they are gone forever, there is also the problem of having to fill in the gap they’ve left, especially if the person was the family’s breadwinner. However, if their death was due to the malicious, negligent, or deliberate action of another person, you reserve the right to seek compensation through a wrongful death claim.
A Roswell wrongful death lawyer with FBD Law can help you seek compensation for your loss by counseling you on everything you need to know about wrongful death claims in New Mexico, filing a case on your behalf, and representing you through the various processes involved. Our attorneys will fight aggressively to ensure that you and your family get the closure you need to move on with life after the demise of your loved one.
If you’ve lost a loved one and would like to pursue a wrongful death claim, get in touch with FBD Law today and schedule a free initial consultation to have your case evaluated. Call (505) 842-9960 to speak to a Roswell personal injury lawyer.
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How Is Wrongful Death Defined in New Mexico
Section 41.2.1 of New Mexico’s statutes describes wrongful death as the loss of life caused by another person’s neglect, default, or wrongful acts. It’s worth noting that this definition also includes deaths that have been caused by any wrongful acts that, under New Mexico Law, amount to a felony.
In New Mexico, a wrongful death claim can be likened to a personal injury claim; the only difference is that the decedent is not available to participate in the claim. Instead, it’s the decedent’s family that files the claim to seek damages for the loss of their loved one.
Who’s Qualified to File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
Wrongful death claims in New Mexico can only be filed by the decedent’s estate representatives; that is, persons the decedent had named in his or her estate plan (their spouse or child, in most cases.) However, if those named in the plan to serve as the deceased’s representative will not or cannot serve, or if the deceased left no plan, a New Mexico judge will appoint one for the family.
It is worth noting that those named in an estate plan only represent the departed in court; any proceeds gained from the claim go to the deceased person’s family, beneficiaries of his/her estate, or anyone that has a valid claim on whatever the deceased owned.
Damages are divided as follows:
- If there is a surviving spouse but no children, all damages go to the spouse.
- If there is a surviving spouse and there are children or grandchildren, damages are divided one-half to the spouse and one-half to the children or grandchildren.
- If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving children or grandchildren, the damages are divided among the children or grandchildren according to New Mexico’s “right of representation” laws.
- If the deceased had no spouse or children or was under 18, the deceased’s parents receive the damages.
- If the deceased has no living parents, damages go to the deceased’s siblings.
What Damages Are Recoverable Through a Wrongful Death Claim?
The deceased’s family or dependents may be awarded damages through a wrongful death claim as long as liability is well established in court. It’s worth noting that some damages are only available to specific people depending on how they were related to the departed. Some of the most common damages recovered through wrongful death claims in New Mexico include:
- Loss of inheritance
- Mental anguish caused by the demise of a spouse, parent, or child
- Loss of companionship
- Reasonable burial and funeral expenses
- Medical expenses related to the decedent’s injury or illness
- The pain and suffering the person endured before their demise
- The person’s financial contribution to his or her household
Punitive damages also do apply to wrongful death claims in New Mexico. However, it’s worth noting that they (punitive damages) are not like other damages as they aren’t intended to compensate the estate or family for its loss. Instead, they are awarded as punishment for especially egregious actions like gross negligence, intentional harm, or recklessness.
Can the Surviving Family of a Deceased Person File for Punitive Damages?
Yes! In some instances, the family of a deceased person is allowed to file for punitive damages, especially when it’s proven that the responsible party acted maliciously or with intent.
How Is Negligence Proven in Wrongful Death Claims in New Mexico?
To secure compensation in New Mexico, the deceased person’s family or estate has to prove that the death of their loved one was caused by the responsible party’s negligent or malicious actions. Those pursuing a case will have to prove the following things:
- Duty: Plaintiffs have to prove that the defendant owed their loved one a duty of care when the accident happened. That means identifying the defendant and the duties they owed the deceased.
- Breach of Duty: The defendant failed to fulfill or breached their duties of care to the deceased.
- Causation: Plaintiffs have to prove how the defendant’s breach of duty directly resulted in the death of their loved one.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
The first thing you need to do is to determine if you’re eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Are you listed in the deceased’s estate plan as a personal representative? If yes, then the next thing you need to understand is that there is a time limit to filing a wrongful death claim in New Mexico as per the state’s statute of limitations. That limit is three years from the day your loved one perished.
The next thing you need to do is to get in touch with an experienced wrongful death lawyer and have him (or her) help you with your case as wrongful death claims can be quite complex. A lawyer will help you understand what compensation amount is fair and how to claim it. They will also help you prepare a case and represent your interests in court to ensure you get compensated. To file a claim, your Roswell wrongful death lawyer will help you with:
Determining Who’s at Fault and Assembling Evidence
Remember, as the plaintiff, you are required to prove duty of care, breach of duty, and causation before your case can be heard. An attorney will help you prove these things to increase the chances of your claim being successful.
Drafting and Filing of the Claim
Once your lawyer has gathered enough information and evidence regarding your claim, he or she will then prepare a formal filing and presents it to the court. The complaint identifies the defendant, outlines the available evidence, and states how much you are seeking as compensation. With that, your wrongful death claim will have been officially filed; paving way for the other stages of the case.
Discovery and Deposition
During this stage, you and the defendant “discover” facts, evidence, and details about the claim. Your attorney(s) then conduct something known as a deposition, which is where witness statements are gathered before trial.
Sometimes, claims get settled before they can go to trial. However, if both parties cannot agree, then a trial is slated for a jury or judge to decide the outcome.
Hire the Best Roswell Wrongful Death Lawyers
If you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligent or malicious actions of another, the Roswell wrongful death attorneys at FBD Law can help you pursue a case to ensure your loved one’s death was not in vain. And while no amount of money can replace a life, getting compensated for your loss could go a long way in helping ensure that you and your family have the finances you need to go on with life.
For help pursuing a wrongful death claim, get in touch with FBD Law by calling (505) 842-9960 today to set up a free initial consultation with our legal team and have your case reviewed. FBD Law cares!