The weeks and months that follow the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. In addition to the emotional trauma, the surviving family may struggle to pay bills if the victim was a source of income. This is where an injury lawyer may be able to help.
If your loved one’s death was the result of another person’s negligence, then you may be entitled to compensation to pay for lost wages, funeral expenses and other damages. Your attorney can help you navigate the claims process and avoid mistakes.
The Law Office of Brian K. Branch can evaluate your case to determine if you may have valid grounds for a lawsuit. Call 505-207-4401 to discuss your situation with an Albuquerque car accident attorney.
Until then, these four steps are crucial when initiating a wrongful death claim in New Mexico:
- Appoint a Personal Representative
In New Mexico, only the person who represents the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Additionally, he or she is the only one who is authorized to collect essential documents, such as employment, medical and other records that privacy protects.
The deceased has often chosen a personal representative for his or her estate in a will, trust or estate plan. This is not always the case, though. If your loved one did not appoint someone, then a court may choose an eligible family member. If circumstances permit, this may even be a trustee-appointed third party.
- Collect All Necessary Documents
Once you have a personal representative, he or she needs to gather important records. Your personal-injury attorney will evaluate these documents and use them to structure your claim.
Incident reports come in various forms. The ones you will need depend on the type of accident that caused the death. In a car accident, for example, the police will investigate the death and write a police report.
The Death Certificate
You may not need a personal-injury lawyer or a personal representative to collect a death certificate. Any immediate family member can obtain this from the New Mexico Bureau of Vital Records. This document will show the initial finding about the cause of death, which makes it vital to your case.
Office of the Medical Investigator’s Report and Findings
The Office of the Medical Investigator will provide you with a much more comprehensive report than the death certificate, which should reflect the OMI’s findings. This report will give a much more extensive description of the cause of death, but as with death certificates, the OMI report may not be entirely accurate or complete.
- Consider Hiring an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer
The other party and his or her insurance company may dispute liability, the cause of death and the amount of damages. An attorney with experience handling cases like yours can structure your claim and fight for the maximum compensation.
- Do Not Negotiate with Insurance Companies Alone
Insurance companies are businesses. As such, they are looking for reasons to dispute claims and minimize the amount they have to pay. Never discuss any aspect of your case with the other party’s insurance provider unless you have an attorney to protect your interests.
If you would like to discuss your case with an Albuquerque injury lawyer, then contact The Law Office of Brian K. Branch. Schedule a consultation by calling 505-207-4401.
I think it’s a good suggestion to avoid talking to insurance companies alone. They will bully you and fight as hard as they can to avoid paying what is fair. Lawyers are trained to know what is fair and what they can fight for.
I agree that you should hire a Lawyer in this circumstance especially because they know how to structure your claim and fight for you. It is good to know that you shouldn’t discuss your case with the other party’s insurance provider. I’m glad I read this prior to something like this happening in my life. I’ll be sure to pass this information along as needed so that others can know how important it is to collect important documents, hire a lawyer, and stay away from insurance companies. Thank you.
I had no idea that there were so many things to look out for and be aware of when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. I’m helping a friend out and doing some research into what he’d have to do, and this was a great primer to help me understand what he’s getting himself into. I know he’s considered hiring an attorney, and after reading, I’m sure it’ll be higher on his priority list. Thanks for sharing!
I have heard that you want all the information that you can in order for you to get a good case going. Lawyers love to get as much information as possible because then they can put things together easier and also get you the help that you deserve. I wouldn’t hold back any documents because you never know if it could be the key to helping you get what you need.
I think when it comes to wrongful death, it would be a really bad idea to negotiate with the insurance companies all on your own. They will try to save as much money as possible, so you need someone that will fight for you in order to get what is right and fair. Having a skilled attorney with lots of experience will be the best way to receive fair compensation from an insurance company.
It is important to have as much information as possible to take and consult with a reputable attorney – in which most offer free consultations. Great tips, thanks for sharing.
Great Step Thanks For Sharing
I’m really glad that you recommend finding and hiring a wrongful death lawyer. Like you said, having an attorney on your side can help you get the best outcome in a difficult situation. They’ll also be able to be a strong voice to fight for your case when you may not be emotionally able to take on that responsibility.
This article sure is handy as we cannot tell when a death due to other’s negligence would occur. I didn’t know that discussing any aspect of the case with the insurance company is not recommended unless we have a wrongful death attorney to protect our interests. In so doing, we can have peace of mind that the experienced lawyer can structure our claim and fight for the maximum compensation. We’ll consider this if in case we face a wrongful death of a loved one!