When someone dear to you dies due to another person’s negligent actions, you need legal help. Your family could benefit from a wrongful death claim since it recovers damages for medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, mental anguish, and other damages.
Consult an experienced Taos wrongful death lawyer from FBD Law after the unexpected and sudden death of a loved one. We have handled wrongful death claims in Laos and all over New Mexico for many years and can help your family get the justice and financial compensation you are owed.
We can deal with all the aspects of your case, from in-depth investigations to filing your claim on time. Please call (505) 842-9960 to arrange a free case evaluation with no obligation with our experienced and compassionate Taos personal injury lawyers.
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How Does The State Of New Mexico Define Wrongful Death?
According to section 41-2-1 of New Mexico statutes, wrongful death is one that is caused by either of the following elements:
- Wrongful act
- Default of another person.
Deaths resulting from someone’s wrongful act amounting to a felony under New Mexico laws are also included in this definition.
Who Can Bring A Wrongful Death Claim In New Mexico?
According to section 41-2-3 of the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act, only the deceased person’s representative or estate administrator can lodge a wrongful death claim in New Mexico. The executor (personal representative) can be the decedent’s parent, child, spouse, or any adult sibling of the deceased.
Suppose the deceased person did not name a personal representative in his or her will or estate plan, or the estate administrator can’t or refuses to serve. In that case, the court will appoint a representative for the claim on behalf of the deceased person.
The executor does not qualify to recover damages for the deceased’s demise unless he or she is a beneficiary of the decedent’s estate. Instead, the executor ensures that the proceeds of a wrongful death action compensate the beneficiaries. In New Mexico, statutory beneficiaries include:
- Children or the deceased’s children
If the decedent doesn’t have a spouse or children or is a minor, the damages awarded in a successful wrongful death claim will be received by the child’s parents. The deceased person’s siblings are awarded the damages if there are no surviving parents, whether the deceased individual is a minor or an adult.
What Types of Damages are Recoverable?
Before any damages are awarded in a wrongful death claim, the court needs to establish the defendant’s liability correctly. In some situations, the types of damages awarded to the decedent’s beneficiaries hinge on the kind of relationship they had with the deceased person.
Typically, you can recover the following damages in a New Mexico wrongful death claim:
- Medical expenses related to the deceased individual’s last injury or illness
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Mental anguish caused by the death of the decedent
- Loss of companionship of a deceased family member
- Financial contributions to the household by the deceased person
- Loss of inheritance
- Pain and suffering the decedent endured before death.
Punitive damages are sometimes available in some New Mexico wrongful death claims. Unlike ordinary damages, punitive damages are not compensatory because they are not intended to recompense the family or estate for any losses. Instead, they are awarded to punish and dissuade particularly egregious actions like recklessness, intentional harm, malice, or gross negligence.
New Mexico does not have a cap for the damages you can recover in a wrongful death case. This means that the court may award punitive and compensatory damages as they deem fit.
Can the Surviving Family File For Punitive Damages?
Yes. In some instances, the surviving family of the deceased, who are usually the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate, can file for and potentially recover punitive damages against the companies or individuals responsible for the untimely death of their loved one.
Since all wrongful death cases are unique and punitive damages are different from other types of damages, not all damages are accessible in all wrongful death cases.
FBD Law has experienced wrongful death attorneys that can help you understand the types of damages recoverable in New Mexico wrongful death cases. We can also help you calculate the damages and decide which damages to file for.
How Is Negligence Proved In A Wrongful Death Case?
To prove negligence in a Taos, New Mexico, wrongful death case, all four elements of negligence must be present.
To prove that an individual was liable for your loved one’s death through negligence, your lawyer must successfully show that the individual (defendant) owed your loved one (victim) a duty of care. A duty of care is a duty to act and adhere to a standard of reasonable care that would keep your loved one safe.
For the defendant to be found negligent, it must be established that the person who caused your loved one’s demise not only maintained a duty to the defendant but that he or she violated that duty.
An individual breaching a duty owed to your loved one isn’t enough to prove negligence. Your attorney must show how an individual’s (defendant) breach of duty to your loved one (decedent) must have caused his or her demise. Simply put, your lawyer must be able to prove that an individual was at fault for your loved one’s death.
Finally, your lawyer must be able to prove that an individual’s wrongful actions damaged your loved one to be found negligent. In this case, the “damage” in question is the death of your loved one.
Suppose all four fundamental elements of negligence are met. In that case, the defendant (the individual responsible for your loved one’s death) will likely be found liable, and pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit may reap benefits.
How Do I Go About Starting A Wrongful Death Claim In New Mexico?
In New Mexico, surviving family members can secure their deceased loved one’s estate by filing a wrongful death claim. But – wrongful death claims often turn into lengthy, multi-year processes making the fight against insurance carriers and other third parties even more complicated.
The claims process in a wrongful death lawsuit involves legal proceedings and active mitigation by the defendant. So, to start a wrongful death claim in New Mexico, follow these few steps:
If you have experienced the untimely demise of someone dear to you and you believe someone else’s negligence or intent may have been the cause, you must do your best to determine who, what, and how caused the wrongful death.
Once you have gathered proof of what happened and all other evidence of your damages, it will be much easier for you to establish whose negligence caused the wrongful death. At this point, you should strongly consider meeting with an experienced Taos wrongful death attorney because they know the ins and outs of the law.
Hire a Lawyer:
A wrongful death lawyer serving Taos, New Mexico, can help you determine liability and protect you from greedy insurance carriers and guilty parties who may try to shift the blame or change the narrative.
The next step after retaining an attorney is to file a petition stating that the alleged wrongful death happened. This is where you can officially declare that the incident was a wrongful death using legal precedent and facts to prepare an initial complaint.
Once you have established that the death was indeed wrongful’ – that is caused by someone else’s recklessness or negligence – you need to gather and organize evidence. Usually, your lawyer will do most of this work.
File a Writ of Summons:
A writ of summons (WOS) is a document used to notify the defendant that you want to commence a civil action against them. It also specifies the time, venue, and location of the legal proceedings.
Service of Process:
After issuing the defendant with a writ of summons, the next step is a service of process. This is document notifies the defendant about their summons. Essentially, it informs the defendant about the lawsuit in advance.
How Is A Wrongful Death Claim Different From An Estate Claim?
The wrongful death of someone gives rise to two wrongful death actions; a wrongful death claim and an estate claim or survivor’s action. The person who brings the claim and the type of damages included are the key differences.
The people who survive the deceased individual bring a wrongful death claim to recover damages and seek punitive action for the full value of the deceased person’s life. On the other hand, an estate claim is brought by the decedent’s estate to recover damages for the financial costs linked to the victim’s death.
A wrongful death action seeks to recover tangible items like lost wages and intangible benefits like loss of consortium for the surviving family members.
In an estate claim or a survivor’s action, the deceased individual’s estate attempts to recoup expenses, like funeral and burial costs, medical expenses, and pain and suffering for the period the decedent was alive after the accident.
Call FBD Law Today For Quality Legal Representation In Your Taos Wrongful Death Lawsuit
After losing someone you love unexpectedly, you might be confused, shocked, and lost in grief. While filing a wrongful death claim and dealing with lawyers may not be the number one priority at such a time, it is crucial. By acting fast and retaining a wrongful death lawyer from Taos, New Mexico, you protect your legal rights and your family’s future.
At FBD Law Firm, our Taos wrongful death attorneys have the experience, resources, financial means, and commitment to represent your case vigorously. We can and will, given a chance, get you the compensation you desperately deserve to secure your family’s future. Call FBD Law at (505) 842-9960 or for your free case review today.