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What Is Considered a Wrongful Death?

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When someone dies in an accident caused by another person’s negligent behavior, the decedent’s survivors may have the right to pursue compensation. Filing a civil claim for financial recovery after a loved one’s death is called a “wrongful death case.”

Below, we will examine several of the statutes that apply to wrongful death claims in the state of New Mexico. Also, we will discuss which incidents are considered to be wrongful deaths.

If you have lost someone you love because of another party’s negligence, reach out to an accomplished New Mexico wrongful death lawyer. The skilled team at Hunt Law Firm has plenty of experience fighting for the interests of grieving families.

How Is “Wrongful Death” Defined?

According to the state laws in New Mexico, a wrongful death results from negligence, a wrongful act, or default of another party. In wrongful death cases, the decedent would have been eligible for a personal injury claim if they had lived.

In other words, a wrongful death case is like a personal injury claim that the deceased person is unable to file. Because the victim cannot pursue compensation themselves, the victim’s representative can do so on their behalf.

A wrongful death attorney can pursue financial recovery from the liable party. The decedent’s legal representative can use the compensation from the case to cover the associated expenses.

Common Types of Wrongful Death Claims

There are many different events that can form the basis of a wrongful death lawsuit. These events include:

  • Incidents of negligence
  • Medical malpractice
  • Intentionally harmful acts

Depending on the cause of the victim’s death, their legal representative may have the right to seek financial recovery. 

Incidents of Negligence

When one person behaves carelessly and their actions result in someone’s death, the victim’s executor may file suit. Consider the following example.

Suppose that a reckless driver caused your family member to suffer a fatal injury in a car crash. In this case, the liable party could be held financially responsible for their negligent actions.

Medical Malpractice

Patients trust their medical providers to offer safe and reliable care. But sometimes, a negligent doctor, surgeon, nurse, or other care provider causes the death of a patient.

When this happens, the relevant party may file a wrongful death claim to recover damages. These cases are structurally similar to other negligence claims. However, in medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff must prove that the care provider failed to enact a reasonable professional standard.

Intentional Harm

Wrongful death cases are not only possible in the aftermath of fatal accidents. If someone purposely caused another’s death, they can also be held accountable through a wrongful death lawsuit.

Under New Mexico state laws, a person who acts criminally and causes someone’s death may face both criminal and civil consequences. This means that criminal action can make the perpetrator liable for financial damages.

Common Damages in New Mexico Wrongful Death Cases

When a wrongful death suit is successful, the court will order the defendant to provide monetary payments to the victim’s estate. These payments are known as “damages.” 

Some of the damages that are typically available in New Mexico wrongful death claims include:

  • Burial and funeral expenses
  • The victim’s outstanding medical bills
  • The deceased person’s lost income
  • The surviving family’s emotional distress
  • The pain and suffering of the survivors
  • A spouse’s loss of consortium
  • The victim’s pain and suffering prior to death

Under New Mexico’s laws, wrongful death claims must be filed by the decedent’s personal representative. This person is also known as the “executor.”

Although some states allow the victim’s close family members to file a wrongful death suit, this is not the case in New Mexico. Usually, the decedent’s executor will be named in their estate plan.

If the victim has not named a personal representative, the court may assign one. 

Premier Legal Representation with Hunt Law Firm

For skilled legal services in Northern New Mexico, reach out to an accomplished wrongful death attorney at Hunt Law Firm. Our team of professionals has years of experience helping grieving families recover the compensation that they deserve.