Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in New Mexico?
With more than 250,000 victims, medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the US.
Medical malpractice is considered a type of wrongful death. Deaths resulting from car accidents, from slips and falls, as well as deaths wherein the person was killed intentionally, are other types of wrongful deaths.
When someone you love was killed because of the behavior of another person, you may be entitled to compensation. The rules for this vary from state to state, and New Mexico wrongful death claims can be complex.
But we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn who can file a wrongful death suit in New Mexico along with all the other information you’ll need to claim your damages.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The New Mexico Wrongful Death Act governs wrongful death in New Mexico. This Act dictates the rules around compensation when someone is killed as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongful action. It also covers deaths as a result of intentional action.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a claim that would have otherwise been a personal injury claim, had the victim survived the incident. Had that person survived, they would have been able to bring a claim against the offending party. But their death doesn’t mean that the negligent or reckless party doesn’t have to pay compensation to the family members of the deceased.
Common Wrongful Death Situations
Statue 41-2-1 is the New Mexico statute that speaks to wrongful death in the state. It defines wrongful death as any death caused by a wrongful act, negligence, or default. This refers to both intentional and accidental deaths.
Wrongful death stems from a variety of situations, but some of the most common are:
- Car accidents where the injuries lead to death. This includes cars, trucks, and pedestrian accidents.
- Medical malpractice cases wherein a doctor is careless in the treatment they provide or fails to diagnose a condition.
- Premises liability such as slips and falls that lead to death.
- Cases where a victim was killed intentionally. This is different from the state bringing a criminal prosecution against the defendant.
If a case would otherwise have been a personal injury case, there’s a good chance it will be considered a wrongful death. The one major exception to this rule is in cases involving work injuries that cause death. These types of cases will be handled through the worker’s compensation system and not through a civil suit.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death claims require the estate of the deceased victim to meet the same requirements as a personal injury case. That means that the plaintiff must establish that negligence was present and that negligence led to the death of the victim.
Proving negligence involves establishing a duty of care, showing how that duty of care was breached, and how that breach led to death. The damages being claimed must relate directly to the death of the individual.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit?
In a wrongful death claim, the estate or those closest to the deceased person are the plaintiffs. However, the claim itself is generally filed by a representative of the estate. The representative files the claim on behalf of the estate of the deceased victim and those who were closest to the victim.
In New Mexico, that representative should be a person named in the will of the victim. If the victim didn’t have a will, then a probate judge will be the person to name the representative.
This is typically a close family member such as a spouse or an adult child. Parents of minors can also be representatives if their child is the victim of wrongful death.
How Long Do They Have to File?
Something very important to note regarding New Mexico wrongful death regulations is the time frame in which representatives have the right to file a claim. Although the state recognizes that you’re grieving the loss o you’re loved on, you’re not given an unlimited amount of time to make a claim. And the longer you take to file your claim, the more trouble you might have in your suit.
For this reason, it’s imperative that you contact legal representation immediately. Although you’re given three years to file a claim, delaying your claim can result in a case dismissed before it ever reaches the court. That means that family members who relied on the loved one will not get the compensation they’re entitled to and need.
What Is The Estate Entitled to?
There are a variety of damages that a representative can claim in a wrongful death suit. These include:
- medical treatment costs incurred prior to death
- pain and suffering incurred prior to death
- funeral and burial costs
- loss of income
- loss of inheritance
- loss of care, guidance, and nurturing
- loss of love and companionship
- loss of consortium
In New Mexico, this compensation is given to a spouse, if there were no children. If there were children and a spouse, the spouse receives half while the children split the other half. If there were only children, they receive compensation and split it according to the law.
Parents may receive compensation if the deceased has no spouse and no children. In the case that parents are not alive, siblings can claim the compensation.
Was a Loved One The Victim of Wrongful Death?
If you had a loved one that was the victim of someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior, you may be entitled to compensation. But figuring out who can file a wrongful death suit in New Mexico is anything but simple, especially in your time of grieving. To get the information you need and get it quickly, contact us today.