To ensure maximum financial support and protection for your family, it is important that you get in touch with an experienced Santa Fe wrongful death lawyer at FBD Law who will help you navigate the complex wrongful death claims process. Call us today at (505) 842-9960 to talk to one of our compassionate and professional Santa Fe injury attorneys.
Of all the life challenges one can go through, dealing with the pain and shock of unexpectedly losing a loved one is perhaps the most difficult. It is normal for one to feel devastated, alone, and as if life has lost all meaning. Research has shown that the grief of losing a loved one can have a significant impact on one’s physical and mental health.
The sad reality is that some of these deaths are completely preventable as they are caused by the negligent or malicious acts of others. This knowledge can make the situation even more painful for the family and make it harder for them to move on.
Even though seeking legal action against the responsible parties might be the last thing on your mind during these difficult times, you and your family members deserve justice as full and fair financial compensation for your great loss.
Besides the intense grief caused, the death of a loved one often leaves most families dealing with financial hardships and other untold challenges, especially if the deceased was a key contributor to the family’s economic wellbeing.
New Mexico compensation laws are there to protect people like you. Through a wrongful death claim, you can be able to recoup past and future damages suffered by your family as a result of the death of your loved one.
How is Wrongful Death Defined in the State of New Mexico
According to New Mexico Statutes section 41-2-1, wrongful death is any death that is caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another. This can include other individuals, corporations, or government agencies. Note that this definition also includes acts that can be classified as a felony under New Mexico Law.
Wrongful death claims in New Mexico can be brought as a result of:
- Criminal acts
- Medical malpractice
- Auto accidents
- Workplace accidents
- Premises liability accidents
Who is Qualified to File A Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
As per the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act, a wrongful death claim can only be filed by a personal representative of the decedent’s estate on behalf of the surviving family members. Typically, the personal representative will be named in the decedent’s estate plan. In most cases, this can be a spouse, parent, sibling, or an adult child of the deceased. In cases where there isn’t an estate plan, the court will appoint one.
While the representative is the one who files the claim he or she isn’t entitled to the damages unless he or she is a beneficiary. The representative is legally expected to ensure that the proceeds from the claim are properly distributed among the beneficiaries, who include:
- The deceased’s spouse
- The deceased’s children
- The deceased’s grandchildren
- The deceased’s parents
- The deceased’s siblings
What Types of Damages are Recoverable?
Once the court properly establishes that the defendant is liable for the decedent’s death, the surviving family can recover various damages depending on their relationship to the deceased person. With that being said, here are the types of damages available under New Mexico Wrongful death law:
- Medical expenses resulting from the injuries or illness leading to death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship, care, and support provided by the deceased
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of potential financial contributions to the household by the deceased
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased before their untimely death
Can the Surviving Family File For Punitive Damages?
Yes, the family members can seek punitive damages against the responsible parties in a New Mexico wrongful death claim. However, it is important to note that punitive damages aren’t awarded in all wrongful death cases.
This is because, unlike other types of damages, they aren’t intended to compensate the surviving family members or estate for their loss, rather, they are meant to punish the defendant for gross negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts that cause harm. Thus, this has to be first established.
If awarded, the state of New Mexico hasn’t put a cap on the amount of recoverable damages.
How is Negligence Proved in a Wrongful Death Case?
It is important to note that not all deaths qualify as wrongful deaths. To be successful in your claim, you need to prove the following four elements of wrongful death:
Duty of Care
You need to prove to the court that the defendant owed the decedent a duty of care in that particular situation.
Breach of Duty of Care
Next, you need to prove that the defendant violated this duty of care. This could be by doing something or failing to do something when another reasonable person in a similar situation would have acted appropriately.
You need to prove that the decedent’s death was directly caused by the defendant’s actions and not some other causes.
Finally, you need to prove that the surviving family members and the estate suffered actual losses and damages as a result of the death. This is because a wrongful death claim can’t be initiated in New Mexico without a personal representative. This is a crucial first step.
How Do You Start a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
Wrongful death claims are governed by statute in the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act. The first step when filing a wrongful death claim is to appoint a personal representative of the estate. In most cases, the personal representative will be a member of the deceased’s family.
The personal representative will have all the authority to file claims on behalf of the surviving family members and estate.
Contact an Experienced Santa Fe Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
No family deserves to suffer the loss of a loved one. But, death is a common and natural occurrence. However, when the death is caused by the negligent and wrongful acts of another, it is unjustified. If you have lost a loved one in Santa Fe, New Mexico, as a result of the wrongful acts of another, you and your family deserve justice and maximum compensation.
While we understand no amount of money can bring back your loved one, financial compensation is the only reasonable recourse the law can provide. And there is no denying the fact that it can significantly help to offset the burden left by the decedent’s death.
Get in touch with an experienced Santa Fe wrongful death lawyer at FBD Law to discuss your case.