When a loved one dies, the last thing you want is a complicated legal process to worry about. That’s why we’re here to help! Wrongful death compensation can never make up for the fact that your loved one is gone. But if your loved one died because of someone else’s purposeful actions or negligence, you have the legal right to pursue compensation.
Definition of Wrongful Death
New Mexico Statutes section 41-2-1 defines a wrongful death as one that is “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”
Wrongful death cases can be complicated, but that’s why we’re here. We help take the load of pursuing justice off your shoulder so that you can focus on taking care of yourself and honoring your loved one’s legacy.
Understand the statute of limitations. New Mexico’s statute of limitations specifies that a wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the date of the deceased’s death.
Determine if you are eligible to file. In New Mexico, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate, in most cases, the person named in the deceased’s estate plan. If the personal representative named in the estate plan cannot or will not serve, or if there is no estate plan, the court will appoint a personal representative, according to Nolo. If there is a surviving spouse but no children, all damages go to the spouse. If there is a surviving spouse and one or more children or grandchildren, damages are divided one-half to the spouse and one-half to the children or grandchildren. If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving children or grandchildren, the damages are divided among the children or grandchildren.
Call an experienced wrongful death attorney. Wrongful death cases are complex. Too often, victims walk away from their case with a settlement far lower than the law entitles them to. An attorney can help you understand what amount of compensation is fair and how to successfully claim it.
Assemble evidence and begin investigations. As the plaintiff in a wrongful death case, you’ll need to prove the following.
- Duty of Care – You must prove to the court that the defendant owed a duty of care to your loved one. For example, in the case of a car accident, you must prove that the defendant had an obligation to obey the Rules of the Road and drive carefully while operating any vehicle
- Breach of Duty of Care – You must prove that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to your loved one. Again, if the situation involves a car accident, you must show that the defendant failed to obey the applicable traffic laws, such as by speeding or by running a red light.
- Causation – You must show that the defendant’s particular action directly caused the wrongful death. So, even if the defendant ran a red light while driving a car, the defendant is not responsible if the death was caused by something else, such as a mechanical failure on the deceased’s vehicle, according to Nolo.
- Determine the value of your case. In New Mexico, damages that can be awarded in a wrongful death case include:
- reasonable funeral and burial expenses
- medical expenses related to the deceased person’s last illness or injury
- loss of companionship of a deceased family member
- mental anguish caused by the death of a parent, child, or spouse
- financial contributions to the household by the deceased person
- loss of inheritance, and
- pain and suffering that the deceased endured before death.
Your case is drafted and filed. Once your attorney has gathered sufficient evidence and information regarding your case, they can then bring forth a formal filing with the court. This complaint will identify the defendant, outline the supporting evidence of your case, and state the monetary amount you will be seeking.
Discovery and deposition stage.
Both sides of the case will “discover” facts, details, and evidence about your claim. The attorneys will conduct the deposition, a process that gathers statements from witnesses prior to a trial.
Trial. Sometimes a case is settled before going to trial. But if both sides can’t agree, then a trial is scheduled before a judge or jury to decide the outcome.
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Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102I