Losing a loved one is a very painful and emotional experience. This loss feels even more overwhelming if the death occurred due to another person’s negligence. While no amount of compensation could ever replace your loved one, you may have the right to hold the person responsible for his or her death accountable in a wrongful death lawsuit. New Mexico allows certain individuals to file these legal claims on behalf of a deceased loved one. For more information about your case, contact a wrongful death attorney today at DuBose Law Firm, PLLC.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
For many people, it can be difficult to determine whether a loved one’s death qualifies for wrongful death litigation. According to New Mexico Statutes section 41-2-1, wrongful death is one that occurs due to the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person.
One way to determine if a loved one’s death is wrongful is to think about his or her legal options if he or she survived the accident. If the deceased could have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party, his or her case likely qualifies for a lawsuit. However, it is important to speak to a New Mexico wrongful death lawyer to confirm the case’s eligibility.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
Under New Mexico law, only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit. The deceased person will likely name his or her personal representative in his or her estate plan. If the deceased did not name a personal representative, did not leave an estate plan, or if the personal representative refuses to serve, the court will appoint a representative on the deceased’s behalf.
Potential Damages in Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Although personal representatives file wrongful death claims, the results of the claim will go to the estate for the benefit of the deceased’s surviving family members. Damages in wrongful death claims include compensation for funeral and burial expenses, final medical expenses, the loss of financial contributions by the deceased, and the pain and suffering the family endured due to his or her passing.
If the claim is successful, the court will disburse the award according to the following rules.
- If the deceased has a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse will receive the entire award.
- If the deceased has a surviving spouse and surviving children or grandchildren, the court will give half of the award to the spouse and half of the award to the children and grandchildren.
- If the deceased has no surviving spouse but has surviving children or grandchildren, the court will divide the award according to New Mexico right of representation laws.
- If the deceased has no surviving spouse or children, or if the deceased is a child under the age of 18, the deceased’s parents will receive the entirety of the award.
- If the deceased has no surviving parents, his or her siblings will receive the entirety of the award.
New Mexico’s Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In New Mexico, personal representatives have three years from the date of the deceased person’s death to file a wrongful death claim. If the personal representative does not file the claim within this time frame, the court will likely dismiss the case and prevent the estate from recovering compensation.
If you believe your loved one’s death was wrongful, it is important to act quickly and speak to a personal injury attorney. Your attorney will evaluate your case, explain your next steps, and initiate the claim process so your family can file the lawsuit ahead of the deadline. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.