Wrongful Death & Car Accidents in New Mexico: What to Know If the Unthinkable Ever Happens

If you found this post to learn more about how to file a wrongful death claim after a car accident in New Mexico, my firm would like to start by offering your family our deepest condolences. No one should ever have to face this situation.

However, you do have legal options if you wish to hold negligent parties accountable for their actions and your family's losses through a negotiated insurance settlement or civil court award.

You likely have questions about the claims process before reaching out to a New Mexico wrongful death lawyer formally. While speaking to an attorney is best, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about car accidents involving wrongful death claims in New Mexico.

How New Mexico Defines Wrongful Death

New Mexico law defines wrongful death as losing one's life due to a negligent act of another. Within the context of car accidents, you may be wondering what constitutes negligence as a driver.

Our statutes require everyone to drive safely at all times. Deviations from this standard could be construed as negligence when proving wrongful death in New Mexico.

Ultimately, proving your wrongful death claim means that it must meet specific criteria, including:

  • Duty: Drivers on New Mexico roads owe each other a duty of care. This requirement also applies to motorists and pedestrians sharing the roadway.
  • Causation: A breach in one's duty of care can result in an accident.
  • Death: If the accident caused life-ending injuries, then New Mexico wrongful death laws govern your claim.
  • Damages: The death of a family member must involve current or future financial losses, including the cost of burial or cremation, therapy for you, and lost earnings.

Examples of breaching a duty of one's care may include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Road rage
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Using a motor vehicle to commit a felony
  • Using a motor vehicle to cause the death of someone else
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

In some wrongful death cases, prosecutors will pursue criminal charges against the individual who caused it. If criminal charges are filed, you can still bring a wrongful death case to civil court. Because a criminal case can affect a wrongful death claim, it is practical to consult with a New Mexico wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.

What Can You Recover in a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death laws are put into place for a reason. When someone else causes the death of your family member negligently, it is true that no amount of money that they or their insurer could ever pay to make up for all of your family's losses.

However, there is a lot that you may lose, now and in the future, because someone else DID NOT follow the rules so egregiously that it caused the death of another human being.

Not only did you lose out on a meaningful relationship, but now you are potentially paying for:

  • Funeral services
  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future income
  • Loss of companionship
  • Mental anguish
  • Psychological therapy
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • And more, as applicable

The idea is that those bills and future damages would not be there if the other driver had not caused them. While every case is unique, the vast majority of personal injury cases never go trial anyway, so it is unlikely you will have to face an arduous lawsuit.

An experienced wrongful death attorney, like Marc Grano, can help you determine the best approach for your situation so that you transparently pursue adequate compensation.

How Much Time Do You Have to File?

There is a civil deadline known as the statute of limitations that prescribes how much time you have to file a wrongful death claim. In New Mexico, you have up to three years from the date of your family member's death.  With the exception of Wrongful Death claims under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, which has a shorter statute of limitations of two years. 

Missing this deadline will result in a denial of your insurance claim or a dismissal of your case. Do not miss this critical timeline if you want to file a claim.

Who Is Eligible to Go After Wrongful Death Compensation?

The person responsible for filing a wrongful death claim is the wrongful death personal representative.  There are specific considerations when deciding who to appoint as a wrongful death personal representative.  This decision must be discussed thoroughly and early in the process.     Making the correct choice in the appointment of a wrongful death personal representative can and will put your claim in the best position for success. 

No matter who holds or fills the position, all proceeds from the lawsuit are distributed to the heirs, either under the guidance providing under New Mexico’s Wrongful Death Act.

How to Hire a Wrongful Death Attorney

The first place to start discussing your wrongful death claim is through a free strategy session. Contact an attorney that has experience in these matters. He or she can provide additional insight regarding your case and how to put your case in the best position for a success.

These matters are highly technical and complex, so it is always good to have a knowledgeable professional with legal insight on your side. You can be sure that the insurance company will not, no matter what they say.

It is also worth mentioning that insurance adjusters will try to settle a wrongful death claim quickly due to the significant amount of financial exposure to them. Therefore, you will want to evaluate any offers before accepting one just to make sure that it is fair.

Call Grano Law Offices, P.C. for Your Free Consultation

The Grano Law Offices, P.C. team is compassionate, capable, and ready to assess your claim and put your case in the best position for success.  If you are ready to learn more about your legal options an get your claim moving forward, contact Grano Law Offices, P.C. for your free case strategy session at 505-587-8649 or by sending me a message here.

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