What Damages Can Be Recovered in a New Mexico Wrongful Death Claim?
New Mexico allows certain surviving family members to recover monetary damages for the wrongful death of a loved one. To do so, the wrongful death and the resulting claim must meet the requirements of New Mexico’s wrongful death statutes.
What is Wrongful Death in New Mexico?
Wrongful death in New Mexico is caused by another person’s negligence or intentional behavior. Typically the victim of a wrongful death accident would have been eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit had they survived.
Wrongful death claims arise from any number of personal injury accidents or injuries, including but not limited to:
- Car accidents;
- Commercial truck accidents;
- Product liability claims;
- Medical malpractice claims; and
- Animal attacks.
Once an attorney verifies that an accident or injury meets the definition of wrongful death, they must ensure the intended claimant has standing or the legal ability to file a wrongful death claim.
Who Can File a New Mexico Wrongful Death Claim?
The personal representative, as named in the deceased’s will, the surviving spouse, or next of kin as assigned by a judge may file a wrongful death claim in New Mexico. While a wrongful death claim may be on behalf of many family members, only the personal representative may initiate the claim.
With few exceptions, a wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of death.
Economic Damages and Non-Economic Damages in a New Mexico Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim may seek damages for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are losses with assignable costs, such as:
- Medical bills, prescriptions, and doctor visits before a loved one’s death;
- Final expenses and burial;
- Loss of health and life insurance due to a loved one’s death;
- Loss of incoming financial support prior to and after a loved one’s death; and
- Loss of inheritance.
Evidence for the above losses must be presented through receipts, invoices, payroll statements, and other documentation.
Non-economic damages do not have fixed dollar amounts but are intangible losses with subjective value. These include but are not limited to:
- Mental and emotional trauma;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of companionship; and
- Loss of guidance.
An experienced personal injury attorney in New Mexico can offer assistance with identifying both economic and non-economic losses as well as valuing a wrongful death claim.
Punitive Damages in a New Mexico Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death lawsuits may also warrant punitive damages. These are damages meant to punish a defendant for egregious behavior or gross neglect and are awarded in a lawsuit.
Distribution of Damages in a New Mexico Wrongful Death Claim
New Mexico dictates the order of any wrongful death damages award. Monetary distribution to surviving family members is as follows:
- To the surviving spouse alone when there are no children;
- Half to the surviving spouse and half to any surviving children and grandchildren; or
- If there is no surviving spouse, but there are surviving children and grandchildren, then any award is divided amongst the children and grandchildren as authorized by New Mexico law.
When none of the above exist, the deceased’s parents receive the damages. If there are no parents, then damages are split amongst any siblings.
Speak with an Experienced New Mexico Wrongful Death Attorney Today
Wrongful death lawsuits must meet specific legal qualifications before filing. Rather than risk dismissal or needing to refile, speak with a New Mexico wrongful death attorney at Liles White for help in a confidential consultation.
At Liles White, our team of New Mexico wrongful death lawyers want to help you and your family hold any negligent parties responsible for the pain and suffering they cause and secure the justice you deserve. Reach out to our skilled wrongful death attorneys in New Mexico today for a free case consultation.