The pain of losing a loved one is something all of us will experience, but when it’s a sudden loss of life caused by an accident, the grief can be especially intense, and the number of questions you have will likely be many and complicated. On an average day in New Mexico in 2020 (New Mexico Dept of Transportation) …A person was killed in a crash every 22 hours.
Because you’re here, two immediate questions you might be asking yourself are, “Can I file a wrongful death lawsuit?” and “Which attorney should I hire to handle a wrongful death lawsuit?” We’re going to answer both questions for you, as well as several others, and hopefully arm you with information to move forward.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
As is the case in many states, New Mexico law requires a personal representative to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased's estate. A surviving husband/wife or adult brother/sister often serves as the personal representative in these cases, however, if they choose not to serve, or are not named in the deceased's estate plan, the court will name a personal representative.
Important: In the event of a successful lawsuit, the personal representative does not dictate how any awarded funds will be dispersed. Any compensation that is issued will be secured by the estate for the surviving family members. While a surviving spouse and/or dependent children are often the recipient of this compensation, there are additional family or next of kin that may also qualify, depending on the circumstance.
(To learn how New Mexico law divides compensation among surviving family members, it's best to speak with one of our wrongful death attorneys or write to us with your question. This helps to ensure that you receive an answer based on the most recent laws regarding wrongful death compensation.)
Understanding New Mexico Wrongful Death Claims
Every state has specific rules that define wrongful death, and these laws are the same for every city throughout the entire state. In the case of New Mexico, a wrongful death lawsuit in Albuquerque will follow the same rules as a wrongful death lawsuit in Santa Fe.
To qualify as a wrongful death in New Mexico, it must be proven that your loved one lost their life as the result of a “wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”
- Wrongful Act: To be considered a wrongful act, it must be proven the defendant was negligent, such as being at fault for a car accident, or acting with criminal intent, e.g., a shooting.
- Neglect: Cases that involve neglect commonly occur in nursing homes and may be caused by inattentive or improperly trained staff.
- Default of another: Different than a wrongful act, the default of another occurs when the defendant fails to take an appropriate action that leads to the death of another person, e.g., a landlord not ensuring an apartment complex is secure, leading to the death of a resident.
No matter the cause, wrongful death lawsuits in New Mexico are often incredibly complex. It’s critical that you have an experienced wrongful death attorney on your side as quickly as possible. Early involvement helps to ensure that evidence is secured and liability is firmly established.