Albuquerque Wrongful Death Lawyers
If a loved one has passed away through the negligent, reckless, or intentional acts of another party, the family left behind should not have to suffer the financial consequences.
At such a difficult time, it can be difficult to consider your legal options but, in Albuquerque, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is three years from the date of death.
Even if you have a strong wrongful death case, the insurance company of the alleged at-fault party will likely dispute the facts of the claim in an attempt to mitigate the consequences.
At Legal Solutions of New Mexico, we can assist you in holding the at-fault party or parties to account and securing compensation for your losses to help you move on with your life.
What is considered wrongful death?
According to New Mexico law, “wrongful death” is “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another” or by a criminal act.
Some of these terms need clarification:
- A wrongful act: where a defendant is negligent or acts with criminal intent (e.g. in a car accident or burglary)
- Neglect: where the defendant(s) fails to take necessary steps to care for the person under their care (e.g. in nursing homes)
- Default of another: where the defendant fails to take appropriate action, leading to the death of another person (e.g. a landlord in an apartment block failing to fix a faulty balcony rail, leading to a fatal fall).
If, for instance, a loved one was killed in a car accident by someone who was driving under the influence of alcohol, that driver will be held criminally liable on a felony charge. However, you may also be able to file a wrongful death claim in the civil courts to seek compensation for your losses.
Car accidents and other fatal incidents on the road (including trucks) are common causes of wrongful death lawsuits in Albuquerque. Some other good examples include:
- A neglected patient in a nursing home or hospital
- Medical malpractice, such as incorrect medication administered or surgery performed
- Negligent security in a public establishment
- Slip and fall accidents
- Product malfunctions
Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?
In most civil lawsuits, the victim must claim for losses.
However, in the case of wrongful death, specific family members are able to “speak” on behalf of the victim and claim losses that can be awarded to the deceased person’s estate.
It’s not a simple case of any family member taking the lead with this. In order to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New Mexico, you must be authorized to do so according to strict and specific guidelines.
In effect, you must be named as the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. This is generally the executor of the will or a close family member authorized by the court to act on behalf of a deceased loved one.
The absence of a will and other estate planning documents can delay proceedings. The Albuquerque courts will need to name a personal representative – usually an immediate family member, such as a spouse.
This person will then seek compensation for the deceased person’s estate, which will then be distributed amongst family members according to New Mexico law:
- A spouse receives all compensation if there are no children
- Children/grandchildren receive half of all compensation if there is a spouse and all the compensation to divide equally if there is no spouse
- Parents receive all compensation (and divide it equally) in the event that the deceased was a minor without children or a spouse
- Siblings (brothers/sisters) receive all compensation to divide equally if there is no surviving spouse, child, grandchild, or parent
Sometimes, the surviving family relied completely on the deceased person for their income. When this is the case, considerable compensation may be due.
To claim what you are entitled to, you need to confirm both your status as a personal representative of the deceased person and establish liability for the wrongful death of your loved one – along with the losses suffered.
If in doubt, speak to one of the wrongful death lawyers at Legal Solutions of New Mexico. Wrongful death lawsuits are complex and the earlier that you involve an experienced lawyer, the sooner you will know where you stand legally.
Types of wrongful death compensations
The compensation you are entitled to in a wrongful death claim depends greatly on the circumstances of the accident as well as your personal and household circumstances.
We may be able to recover the following losses for you:
- The full medical costs related to the incident
- Funeral and burial expenses
- The physical pain and suffering of your loved one
- Mental anguish (emotional pain and suffering) suffered
- Lost income and/or inheritance (future earnings)
- Loss of companionship
- Punitive damages
The duration and intensity of suffering caused, the nature of the relationships involved, and the level of financial dependence upon the deceased are all important factors in determining the amount of compensation that can be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Most insurance companies prefer to settle out of court to avoid unnecessary expenses. If your case goes to trial, the level of compensation awarded will be based upon a “fair and just” interpretation of all the factors by a judge or jury, provided liability can be proven.
Claim the compensation you deserve
No amount of compensation will bring your loved one back. However, an acknowledgement that the death should not have happened and adequate financial compensation for that fact can help you move on from the tragedy and limit the financial impact of it.
The skilled wrongful death lawyers at Legal Solutions of New Mexico are committed to securing the compensation you deserve.
Start with an initial case evaluation to know where you stand. Call 505-445-4444 or email us.