Wrongful death attorneys
There is nothing quite so devastating as losing a loved one. When that death is due to the acts of another, either through their negligence or their intentional acts, the family of the deceased is left to pick up the pieces causing significant personal and financial strain. Wrongful Death law exists to compensate the surviving family members for the strain that the death caused.
Generally, Wrongful Death claims follow the same steps as any other personal injury suit. The plaintiff must prove that he or she was harmed as a result of the defendant breaching a duty owed to the plaintiff. The harm need not be purely financial and will account for the pain of loss, but medical bills and funeral costs can often add up more quickly than anyone realizes and, in some cases, the loss of the deceased’s income can devastate their family. Plaintiffs in wrongful death cases usually seek compensation not only for the monetary loss of losing a family member, but for the loss they experienced as a result. The law allows for these claims, as it recognizes that while the monetary result of a death in the family may be significant, the personal harm is usually far more significant and long lasting.
New Mexico generally follows these steps, with a few important differences. The New Mexico Wrongful Death Act requires that a personal representative be appointed to represent deceased in any wrongful death action. The personal representative is usually the surviving spouse but can be other family members or non-family members as chosen by the class of individuals who have standing to sue. This person acts on behalf of the deceased in the lawsuit. This is to avoid each member of the family being required to sue separately and prolong the process, potentially endlessly.
The class of individuals who have standing to sue in New Mexico is comprised only of surviving family members, including the spouse, children, and parents of the deceased.
Any damages awarded to the class in the suit are held by the estate of the deceased and distributed as follows:
• If there is a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse will receive all damages.
• If there is a surviving spouse and one or more children or grandchildren, half of the damages will go to the spouse, with the rest being divided among the children and grandchildren.
• If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving children or grandchildren, the damages are divided among the children or grandchildren.
• If there is no surviving spouse or children or grandchildren, the parents of the deceased will receive all of the damages.
New Mexico also has a very strict timeline for suit. If you miss important deadlines, your claims may be barred. If you have suffered the loss of a family member, contact us today to discuss your case. You may be entitled to damages for the loss that you will continue to feel for the rest of your life. Do not delay.