A wrongful death action arises when the wrongful or negligent acts of another result in the death of someone else. The death may have been due to a car accident, medical malpractice, product liability situation, or another type of situation that would normally be followed by a personal injury action should the victim have survived his or her illness or injury. A wrongful death claim, however, cannot be initiated by just anyone. In fact, New Mexico is very specific about who is permitted to bring a wrongful death claim.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
In the State of New Mexico, only the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate has the right to file a wrongful death claim. Usually, the personal representative will be named in the estate planning documents, such as the will, of the deceased individual. Without a valid will, however, a personal representative will be appointed by the probate court. If the personal representative named in the decedent’s will is unable or unwilling to serve, then the probate court will appoint an alternative personal representative. Usually, the named or appointed personal representative will be a trusted family member or loved one of the deceased.
The personal representative is empowered to bring a wrongful death claim mainly due to the fact that the State sees such a claim as being personal to the deceased victim. Because the victim cannot bring the action himself or herself, the personal representative of his or her estate does so. While the personal representative may bring the wrongful death claim, the actual proceeds from a successful claim go to the estate of the deceased and, in turn, to the beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate or anyone who has a valid claim against the contents of the estate, such as creditors.
Due to the fact that the proceeds from a successful wrongful death claim pass to the estate of the deceased, the damages from the claim ultimately go to compensating the family and loved ones for the loss of the deceased. A successful wrongful death claim can provide a family with critical monetary compensation to pay for a wide range of expenses associated with the wrongful death action. Damage awards can go to covering funeral expenses and burial costs. They can also cover the final medical bills of the deceased. Furthermore, damage awards may include compensation for mental anguish as well as a loss of income or financial support arising from the death of the wrongful death victim.
A wrongful death damage award may also account for the loss of future income. In other awards, it may include the loss of the income the deceased would have reasonably been expected to earn had he or she survived the accident. The award may also include lost inheritance. For instance, had the deceased owned investment accounts or other assets that accrue interest value, the sudden death of the deceased may have resulted in those assets not reaching the value they would have had he or she survived. Thus, the damage award may account for this loss.
Wrongful Death Attorney
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or wrongful acts of another, the Hunt Law Firm is here for you. We will provide you with strong, dependable legal counsel as you navigate this tragic chapter. Contact us today.