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 505-764-9710 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 505-764-9710.