File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico
Losing a loved one is never easy. When a loved one’s death is caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful act, the grief and emotional trauma can be compounded by feelings of anger and frustration. One way to seek justice and hold the responsible party accountable is by filing a wrongful death claim. However, not just anyone can file such a claim in New Mexico.
What is a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim is a legal action brought against a person or entity whose negligence, wrongful act, or recklessness resulted in someone else’s death. In New Mexico, the wrongful death statute N.M Stat. 41-2-1 entitles specific individuals to receive compensation as if the death had not happened and the deceased person could have made a claim for their injuries.
Situations that may lead to a wrongful death claim include:
- Car accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Neglect in nursing homes
- Accidents resulting from a homeowner’s negligence
- Slip and falls
- Workplace accidents
- Criminal acts
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the only one who can bring a wrongful death claim. The personal representative is usually the executor named in the deceased’s will, often the surviving spouse or adult siblings. If there is no will, or if the executor named in the will is unable or unwilling to serve, the court may appoint a personal representative to handle the estate and bring the wrongful death claim.
The personal representative solely serves as the named party in the lawsuit and works with a wrongful death attorney to bring the claim on behalf of surviving family members and to ensure the compensation is distributed to the beneficiaries.
In New Mexico, damages awarded in a successful wrongful death claim are first paid to the deceased’s estate and then distributed to the surviving beneficiaries according to the provisions of the state’s wrongful death statute.
Qualified Beneficiaries in Wrongful Death Settlement
Under New Mexico’s wrongful death statute NM Stat. 41-2-3, only certain family members are qualified beneficiaries. The distribution of damages from a wrongful death lawsuit is as follows:
- If the deceased was married but had no children, all proceeds go to the surviving spouse.
- If the deceased was survived by a spouse and children, half of the proceeds go to the surviving spouse, and the other half is divided equally among the children.
- If there is no surviving spouse, but there are children, the proceeds are divided equally among the surviving children.
- If there is no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the proceeds are divided equally among the deceased’s siblings.
What Damages Can a Lawyer Help You Recover?
If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim in New Mexico, you may be able to recover certain damages with the help of an experienced wrongful death attorney. The damages that may be awarded in a wrongful death settlement include compensatory and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate the surviving family members for their financial and emotional stress due to their loved one’s death. These damages may include:
- Medical bills left by the deceased
- Funeral and burial costs
- Lost income and benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of love and guidance for surviving children
On the other hand, punitive damages are meant to punish the person or entity responsible for the wrongful death and deter similar behavior in the future. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages, especially where the responsible party’s conduct was particularly wrongful.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico
In New Mexico, you have a limited time to file a claim (statute of limitations) after your loved one’s death. The Statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in New Mexico is three years from the date of the loved one’s death. It is essential to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to ensure you meet all legal deadlines and requirements.
Get Assistance With Your Wrongful Death Claim Today
If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim in New Mexico, contact the compassionate and experienced wrongful death attorneys at the Ruhmann Law firm today. We understand how devastating losing a loved one can be, and we are here to provide the legal assistance and support you need during this difficult time. To schedule your free consultation, contact us at 915-910-5600 or online, and we can help you pursue justice for your loved one.