Under New Mexico law, wrongful death is defined as a death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” A wrongful death action allows surviving family members to be compensated when the negligent or intentional acts of another caused a loved one’s death. Through a wrongful death claim, survivors may receive compensation to cover medical bills, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and burial costs, among other damages. Essentially, a wrongful death claim allows loved ones of the deceased to bring the personal injury action that he or she would have been able to bring had he or she survived.
Who is Entitled to a Wrongful Death Claim?
New Mexico has specific rules in place relating to how to bring a wrongful death claim. For instance, only the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate may file a wrongful death claim. The personal representative is usually named in the Last Will and Testament of the deceased individual. If there is not one named, the named one is unable to serve for some reason, or the deceased person died without a will, the court will appoint the personal representative.
While the personal representative must file the wrongful death claim, any damages resulting from a successful wrongful death claim are distributed to surviving family members. Who receives the proceeds from the wrongful death action will depend on the relationship the surviving family members had to the deceased. For instance, if there is a surviving spouse, but no children, the damages will all pass to the surviving spouse. If there is a surviving spouse and one or more children or grandchildren, half of the damages will be dispersed to the spouse and the other half will be distributed among any surviving children or grandchildren. In the event that there is no surviving spouse, but there are surviving children or grandchildren, the claim proceeds will be divided between the children or grandchildren.
In a wrongful death claim, the family of the deceased has the ability of recovering much needed expenses such as the costs associated with funeral and burial. Additionally, the proceeds of a wrongful death claim may go towards covering the last medical expenses of the deceased which were the result of the injury or illness sustained due to the actions of the at fault party. Additionally, family members may seek the recovery to compensate them for the loss of financial contributions caused by the loss of a parent, child or spouse. Other potential damages include:
- Loss of companionship
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering endured by the deceased prior to death
Punitive damages are also available in some wrongful death claims. Punitive damages are exemplary damages because they address a much different purpose than other damage types. Punitive damages are not meant to compensate the victims for harm suffered. Instead, punitive damages are intended to punish an individual for actions found to be particularly egregious. Punitive damages may also be warranted should the victim have suffered intentional harm or from gross negligence on the part of another.
Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or intentional actions of another, you may be at a loss as to what you should do next. Taking on the legal system in the wake of losing a loved one can be a daunting prospect. That is why Hunt Law is committed to helping our clients at times when they need help the most. Let us take on the legal burden and fight for your legal right to monetary compensation, while you work through the healing process. Contact us today.