Farmington Wrongful Death Lawyer
At The Fine Law Firm, we understand that learning about the death of a loved one is devastating and life-changing. It can be even more difficult to cope with a loss in your family when it results from someone else’s negligence or wrongful acts. In these situations, our attorneys provide legal advice and representation to surviving family members. We can represent your family in a Farmington wrongful death case, where you have the chance to seek justice and financial compensation. Contact us to begin with a free case consultation.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is a type of claim that seeks to hold one or more parties liable, or financially responsible, for a victim’s preventable death. The exact definition of wrongful death varies from state to state. Under New Mexico Statutes Section 41-2-1, a wrongful death is a loss of life that is caused by any of the following:
- A wrongful act: a knowing or intentional act meant to cause harm to the victim, such as assault or battery. It can also refer to recklessness or a wanton disregard for the safety and welfare of others.
- Neglect or negligence: the failure to exercise ordinary care or a breach of the duty of care, resulting in a fatal injury or illness.
- Default: an omission, or the failure to do something that a reasonable and prudent party would have in the same or similar circumstances.
State law says that if a death was caused under such circumstances that would, had death not ensued, entitled the victim to maintain a personal injury action and recover damages, the party who would have been liable shall be liable in a wrongful death action.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
A wrongful death in Farmington can occur under a number of different circumstances, from a disaster at work to a surgeon’s critical error during an operation. At The Fine Law Firm, our wrongful death attorneys can help if your loved one passed away in any of the following types of incidents, among others:
- Motor vehicle accident: collisions involving cars, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and commercial trucks can be deadly. After a fatal crash, surviving family members may be able to hold a distracted or negligent driver accountable.
- Dangerous premises: accidents such as slip and falls, dog attacks, elevator or escalator accidents, staircase accidents, structural fires, or other incidents caused by a dangerous condition or defect on a property.
- Workplace accident: fatal worker injuries or illnesses due to catastrophic falls, falling objects, transportation accidents, machinery incidents, fires, explosions, electrocutions, exposure to toxic substances and other hazards at work.
- Defective product: deaths due to defective and dangerous consumer products, such as appliances, children’s toys, automobile parts or equipment, resulting in manufacturer liability. Defects can refer to design, manufacturing or marketing mistakes.
- Medical malpractice: the death of a patient due to a health care practitioner’s failure to adhere to the correct or required standards of care when treating the patient. Examples include a misdiagnosis, medication error, birth injury, surgical error and failure to treat.
You may also have grounds to file a wrongful death claim after homicide, manslaughter or murder. Intent to kill the individual is not necessary to prove, however, to hold someone liable for wrongful death in New Mexico. It is enough to show that the defendant’s actions caused or significantly contributed to your loved one’s death, whether or not death was intended.
What Damages Can You Recover?
A wrongful death claim in Farmington brought after a negligence-based accident, intentional act or medical malpractice could hold one or multiple defendants financially responsible for the damages your family suffered due to the death. Available damages or financial compensation may include:
- Funeral and burial costs (up to a reasonable amount)
- Final medical expenses for the decedent’s injury or illness
- Lost wages and employment benefits
- Lost inheritance or financial contributions
- Loss of the loved one’s guidance, care and companionship
- Emotional distress of survivors
- Pain and suffering the victim endured prior to death
In New Mexico, state law requires any compensation received through a wrongful death claim to be distributed to the following parties, in this order: a surviving spouse, a surviving spouse and any surviving children or grandchildren (one-half each), or surviving children or grandchildren alone. If the decedent was under the age of 18, damages will go to the victim’s parents or siblings.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death in Farmington?
In some states, a deceased person’s surviving relatives can file a wrongful death claim themselves. In New Mexico, however, the law states that only the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a claim. This person – sometimes called the executor or administrator of the estate – may have been named in the decedent’s will or estate plan. If not, the courts can appoint one.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?
If you wish to file a wrongful death claim in Farmington, you have a limited amount of time in which to do so. You must file before the passing of New Mexico’s statute of limitations. New Mexico Statutes Section 41-2-2 states that a wrongful death claim must be brought within three years after the cause of action accrues, meaning the date of the victim’s death.
Statutes of limitations are strict time limits that exist for every type of civil claim in New Mexico. In general, if you wait too long and attempt to file a wrongful death claim more than three years after your loved one’s death, the courts will bar you from receiving a financial recovery. This is why it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible about a potential wrongful death claim in Farmington.
Contact Our Farmington Wrongful Death Lawyer
No amount of financial compensation can bring back your beloved family member. Filing a wrongful death claim, however, can give your loved one a voice and deliver some measure of justice for a death that never should have happened. If someone else’s negligent, careless or wrongful actions caused the death of your loved one in Farmington, New Mexico, contact The Fine Law Firm for a free consultation. We care about our clients and can help you understand your family’s legal rights during this difficult time. Call (505) 889-3463 today.