If you recently sustained injuries in an accident in New Mexico or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent behavior, you should be considering your options for seeking compensation by filing a civil lawsuit. Depending upon the specific circumstances of your case, you may be unsure about whether you should file a personal injury lawsuit or a wrongful death lawsuit. While these types of lawsuits are closely related, they also have some substantial distinctions from one another. We want to give you more information about the ways in which personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are related to one another, as well as the ways in which they are different.
Many Personal Injury Lawyers Handle Wrongful Death Claims
Many personal injury attorneys in Santa Fe, New Mexico and across the country also handle wrongful death claims that arise under New Mexico’s wrongful death law. However, this does not mean that these types of claims are exactly the same. Rather, they are closely related. Personal injury lawsuits allow an injured plaintiff who is still alive, regardless of the severity of his or her injuries, to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. With a wrongful death lawsuit, New Mexico law recognizes that, even though a person has died from their injuries, someone should still be able to hold the at-fault party accountable and to seek financial compensation from that negligent, at-fault party. Accordingly, wrongful death law allows a personal representative of the deceased person to step into the shoes, metaphorically, of the deceased and to file a claim.
Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits Allow a Plaintiff to Seek Compensation from a Negligent Party Whose Behavior Caused Serious Injuries
As we discussed above, both personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits allow a plaintiff to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault or negligent party in order to seek financial compensation for losses.
Plaintiffs are Different in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New Mexico
The plaintiffs are different in personal injury and wrongful death claims. In most personal injury lawsuits, the injured person is the plaintiff. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the personal representative is the plaintiff.
Statutes of Limitations Differ in Personal Injury Lawsuits and Wrongful Death Claims
The statutes of limitations are different in personal injury and wrongful death claims. Under New Mexico law, most personal injury lawsuits need to be filed within three years from the date of the injury. While wrongful death claims also have a three-year statute of limitations, the time period or the “clock” does not begin “ticking” on the date of the injury. Instead, the clock starts on the date of the deceased’s death.
Damages May be Slightly Different
In both wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits, the plaintiff can seek compensatory damages that pay for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering incurred or experienced by the injured party. However, wrongful death lawsuits often can allow a plaintiff to seek additional damages, such as funeral expenses and loss of companionship, which are not available in personal injury lawsuits.
Contact a Santa Fe Personal Injury Attorney
Do you have questions about filing a claim for compensation after a serious accident or medical malpractice incident? An experienced Santa Fe personal injury lawyer can discuss your options with you today and can assess the specific details of your case. Contact Slate Stern Law for more information about filing a civil claim for compensation.