Wrongful Death Lawyers in Las Cruces, New Mexico
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The death of a loved one is always a tragedy. However, if your loved one’s death was caused by the negligence of another, it is perhaps even more of a tragedy. Though no amount of compensation can bring back your loved one, we at Zinda Law Group may help you if you decide to file a wrongful death claim.
New Mexico’s wrongful death statute states that a lawsuit for wrongful death may be brought if the “wrongful act, neglect, or default of another” caused the deceased’s death. In New Mexico, a wrongful death claim must be filed by a personal representative of the deceased’s estate. A personal representative is typically the surviving spouse or the deceased’s sibling.
COMMON WRONGFUL DEATH CASES
According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, 392 people died in a motor vehicle accident in 2018. Though car accidents occur for many reasons, nearly all of these reasons have something to do with the negligent behavior of a driver.
For instance, many car accidents occur due to a distracted driver. Though highly frowned upon, many drivers text or check their phones while driving, increasing the likelihood of a car accident. If a distracted driver ends up killing another driver or a pedestrian, the victim’s family member may be able to sue the distracted driver.
Read More: Las Cruces Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Though truck drivers are supposed to be carefully trained by their employers, many employers do not train their drivers or even properly vet them. Thus, some truck drivers drive recklessly and speed, sometimes resulting in fatal accidents. Sometimes, the employer itself is at fault for not maintaining the trucks. An 18-wheeler that has a faulty engine is a ticking time bomb on the highway.
If your loved one is killed in a truck accident, you may have a claim against the driver as the driver is directly involved in the accident. You may also have a claim against the trucking company because the trucking company is the employer, and an employer is responsible for its employee’s actions. Even the truck manufacturer may be sued if there is evidence that the truck manufacturer knew that there were defects in the truck.
Many New Mexicans work in dangerous places. For instance, many New Mexicans work in oilfields where the likelihood of fatal accidents is higher than that of work that occur in air-conditioned offices. Though New Mexico has passed a workers’ compensation act that prevents individuals and their family members from suing employers in the case of an injury or death, there are some exceptions.
For instance, if the employee was killed because the employer acted extremely negligently or acted in an intentional way that led to the death of the employee, family members of the employee may sue the employer. If the employee was killed at a workplace due to the act of someone other than the employer, family members may also sue.
Doctors are not infallible. Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or some other healthcare provider is negligent and the patient is harmed as a result. For instance, a doctor may make a misdiagnosis, resulting in the patient receiving a wrong and potentially harmful treatment. Additionally, a surgeon could make a wrong incision, causing permanent damage to the patient. In other medical malpractice cases, death may result. In such cases, family members of the deceased patient may sue the doctor or even the hospital.
When we buy a consumer product, we expect it to be safe. Unfortunately, there have been cases when a consumer buys a good that is either designed or manufactured defectively and hurts the user. For instance, if a consumer buys an electronic appliance, but perhaps because of faulty wiring, the appliance catches fire, then the consumer may have a case against the manufacturer or retailer of the product.
Electronic appliances are not the only consumer goods that can cause death to their users. Faulty airbags and faulty medical equipment also can cause death. Family members may be able to sue the company that made or sold the defective product.
The law requires a building owner or a landlord to make his or her premises safe for people who visit or live there. Yet there are many cases in which the building owner or landowner neglects their premises, causing death to visitors or tenants. For example, a landlord may not have installed proper lighting in his building, and a tenant consequently trips while climbing the stairs and dies. In such cases, family members of the deceased may sue the building owner or landlord for wrongful death.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENTAL DEATH
After the accidental death of a loved one, you should take some time to grieve the death of the loved one.
2. Settle the Deceased’s Affairs
Plan a funeral for the deceased, and also collect information on the deceased’s estate.
3. Call a Lawyer
If you are thinking about filing a lawsuit, call an experienced lawyer and tell him or her about your situation. It may help your case to get a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the legal process and has experience filing Las Cruces wrongful death lawsuits.
ELEMENTS OF A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM
To win a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove that the individual that caused the death was negligent. To prove that the individual was negligent, you must prove that the individual owed a legal duty, that the legal duty was breached, that the breach of the duty caused the death, and that the death caused monetary loss.
To give an example, imagine that a driver kills another driver because he was texting. A claimant would state the following in his or her lawsuit:
- First, that the defendant driver owed a duty of care to the deceased
- Second, that the driver breached this duty by driving while texting
- Third, that the driver’s driving while texting caused the death
- And finally, that the death caused monetary loss, such as hospital bills, funeral expenses, etc.
DETERMINING WHO IS AT FAULT
Though each case is different in terms of facts, in every case, a wrongful death claimant must show that the party it sues was negligent.
In a wrongful death claim based on a car or truck accident, the claimant must show that the defendant driver was negligent by engaging in careless behavior such as texting while driving, or sleeping at the wheel.
In a wrongful death claim based on a workplace accident, the claimant must show that the employer was grossly negligent by perhaps not following a well-established safety protocol.
In a wrongful death claim based on medical malpractice, the claimant must show that the health care provider was negligent by perhaps making an incorrect diagnosis.
In a wrongful death case based on a defective product, the claimant must show that the company that made the product was negligent by perhaps not checking whether the product worked correctly or not.
In a wrongful death cased based on premises liability, the claimant must show that the owner of the premises was negligent by perhaps not checking to see if there were hazardous materials on the premises.
COMPENSATION FROM A LAS CRUCES WRONGFUL DEATH LAWSUIT
Two general categories of compensations are available: economic and non-economic.
The first category includes monetary compensation to match the value of financial support family members would have received if the deceased were still alive, the value of household services the deceased would have contributed to if he or she was still alive, the value of the medical expenses related to the deceased’s death, the value of the funeral and burial expenses, and the value of the deceased’s wages and benefits.
The second category includes compensation to compensate for the loss of companionship, mental and emotional distress, and other unquantifiable loss.
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
In New Mexico, you have from the deceased’s date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
CHILD WRONGFUL DEATH
A wrongful death claim can be filed on behalf of a deceased child. However, there are some complications. Placing a value on a child’s death is not easy. Though compensation for a wrongful death claim for an adult is often calculated by looking at his or her earning capacity, a child generally does not have a job to find out his or her earning capacity. Therefore, when evaluating a child’s value for wrongful death compensation purposes, the judge or jury may often have to estimate by looking at all sorts of factors such as the education level of the child. For instance, if the child was attending an Ivy League college studying finance at the time of death, that child’s value may be higher for compensation purposes than that of a child who was an elementary student at the time of death.
CONTACT A LAS CRUCES WRONGFUL DEATH LAWYER
The experienced Las Cruces attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why you don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.