Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, when a person dies due to another party’s negligent or intentional action, the deceased person’s estate may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The following is a brief explanation of wrongful death claims in New Mexico, including the state’s definition of “wrongful death,” who is allowed to bring this kind of case to court, the time limits New Mexico law imposes on filing wrongful death claims, and the damages available if the claim succeeds.
What is Wrongful Death in New Mexico?
New Mexico defines wrongful death as a death caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another. There are several types of accidents that lead to wrongful death, including, but not limited to the following:
- Car accidents;
- Truck accidents;
- Motorcycle accidents;
- Slip and fall accidents;
- Workplace accidents; and
- Defective product accidents.
A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil claim for money damages brought by the surviving members of a deceased individual against another person or entity held liable for the death.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, a wrongful death claim is a personal injury claim the deceased would have been able to bring if death had not occurred. In other words, the survivors of the deceased pursue a personal injury claim on their behalf. Even if the at-fault party is criminally charged, a civil claim for wrongful death can still be brought against them.
A New Mexico wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This person is often designated by name in the deceased’s estate plan. Common choices include surviving spouses or adult siblings of the deceased.
If the executor or administrator cannot, or will not, serve as a personal representative of the deceased’s estate, the court will appoint a personal representative.
What is the Time Limit to Bring a Wrongful Death Claim?
A wrongful death claim must be filed within three years of the date of the deceased’s death. After three years, any wrongful death claim is barred, and damages are disallowed.
What Damages Can Be Recovered in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Two kinds of damages may be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. These are punitive and compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are meant to cover the costs associated with the wrongful death. Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant or deter similar action in the future.
Compensatory damages are either economic or non-economic. Economic damages cover the fixed or calculable costs of the injury and death, such as medical costs, funeral costs, and lost financial contribution. Non-economic damages cover the emotional cost of death, like mental anguish and loss of companionship.
Damages awarded from a successful wrongful death claim are held by the deceased’s estate to benefit the surviving family members. Distribution is per the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act.
Contact an Experienced New Mexico Wrongful Death Attorney
If you recently lost a loved one, you may be unsure how to proceed with recovering from an accident and death-related expenses. Let the Liles White experienced wrongful death attorneys in New Mexico help you navigate New Mexico’s wrongful death laws and secure the justice and compensation to which you are entitled.
Liles White shoulders the legal burden for you and your family so you can focus on grieving and rebuilding your lives. If you would like to learn more about pursuing a New Mexico wrongful death claim, contact our office in Santa Fe, NM today. Schedule a free case consultation with one of our compassionate, knowledgeable New Mexico personal injury attorneys.