Personal Injury

Wrongful Death In New Mexico: What is it?

The wrongful death of a loved one can be devastating to a family both emotionally and financially. New Mexico has laws that have been created to assist in protecting and compensating the grieving family members. There is also a time limit on when a lawsuit can be filed for wrongful death.

What is a wrongful death lawsuit?

A wrongful death is a death due to the negligent, willful, or wrongful act, omission or fault of another. In addition to holding the negligent party accountable for their actions, the purpose of a civil wrongful death lawsuit is to seek monetary compensation for those family members left behind.  Financial compensation is particularly important if you relied on the decedent for financial support.  

Common types of wrongful death lawsuits include negligent death involving:

  • Motor vehicle accidents – caused by another driver, unsafe road, or vehicle defect 
  • Pedestrian/bicycling accidents – generally these involve a motor vehicle and may be covered by the driver’s liability insurance
  • Defective products – there are several parties involved in the chain of product liability including manufacturers, retailers and suppliers
  • Premises liability – death caused by the dangerous condition of a property
  • Medical malpractice – failure or delay in diagnosis, surgical errors, anesthesia errors, improper treatment
  • Pharmacy errors – dispensing wrong medication, incorrect labeling, error in dosage 

New Mexico Wrongful Death Attorneys Representing Clients in Santa Fe

The loss of a loved one under any circumstances is devastating, but particularly so when the death results from another party’s careless or intentionally harmful behavior. Nobody should have to lose a family member because of somebody else’s negligence or wrongdoing, yet these preventable accidents and injuries occur more often than most of us would like to consider. Although it can seem unimaginable to initiate a lawsuit when you are grappling with a loved one’s death, it is critical to learn more about WD claims and the ways in which they can help surviving family members to obtain essential compensation while holding the wrongdoer accountable. An experienced New Mexico wrongful death lawyer at Slate Stern Law can help you with this complicated and difficult process. 

What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

Wrongful death law is often discussed in relation to personal injury law. Although the two areas of law are distinct from one another, they are closely interrelated. In a personal injury law, an injured party can file a civil lawsuit against the liable party for injuries resulting from negligence or intentional wrongdoing. Yet who can file a claim when a personal injury is fatal and the injured party is no longer alive in order to file a lawsuit against the responsible party in order to seek financial compensation? Here is where wrongful death law comes into play.

In a WD lawsuit, a personal representative of the deceased’s estate can step into the shoes, metaphorically, of the deceased in order to file a lawsuit against the liable party. In filing a WD lawsuit against the liable party, the personal representative can seek financial compensation for the same types of losses that the deceased would have been able to seek if she or he had survived—such as lost wages and compensation for medical bill costs—as well as additional forms of compensation for the surviving family members. Examples of those additional damages include compensation for mental anguish or pain and suffering resulting from the deceased’s death, loss of companionship of the deceased, and funeral and burial expenses.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?

Under New Mexico wrongful death law, the personal representative of the estate must be the person who files a WD claim. However, while the personal representative is the party who files the claim, she or he can seek financial compensation on behalf of the surviving family members. Depending upon the deceased’s surviving family members, a surviving spouse, surviving children, and in some cases surviving grandchildren have the right to recover damages.

Statute of Limitations for New Mexico Wrongful Death Lawsuits

WD lawsuits have a different statute of limitations from personal injury lawsuits, even for personal injury claims arising out of the same type of accident or injury. Under New Mexico law, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is three years, similar to many personal injury cases. However, the clock on the wrongful death statute of limitations begins to “tick” at a different point than the clock for a personal injury lawsuit. The clock on the wrongful death statute of limitations starts ticking on the date of the deceased’s death as opposed to the date of the injury. Accordingly, if the deceased suffered a serious injury and did not succumb to the injury for several months—or even years—the clock will not start ticking until the date of death.

From the date of the death, you have three years to file a wrongful death lawsuit before the claim will become time-barred.

Seeking Damages in a New Mexico Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can include two kinds of compensatory damages — economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages compensate for direct financial losses like hospital bills prior to the deceased’s death, lost wages of the deceased, and funeral and burial expenses. Non-economic damages compensate for indirect losses that are more subjective in nature, such as mental anguish, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship.

Contact Our New Mexico Wrongful Death Attorneys for Assistance

If you recently lost a loved one because of another party’s negligence or intentional wrongdoing, it is essential to seek advice from an experienced New Mexico wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Losing a loved one is devastating, and we know how difficult it can be to think about the possibility of being involved in a lawsuit while you are grieving and dealing with this tremendous loss. At the same time, we also know how critical it is to hold the liable party accountable and to seek financial compensation to help you cover some of the enormous losses you have experienced and will continue to experience in the future. Contact Slate Stern Law today for assistance.