It is always difficult to cope with losing a loved one, especially when that death is unexpected, such as with a fatal car accident. The death of a loved one is even harder when it was avoidable if the other party had taken more care. An unexpected loss like this can leave you devastated emotionally and financially.
However, you may have legal recourse for pursuing compensation, and a Santa Fe personal injury attorney with our firm can walk you through the legal process with the attention and compassion your case deserves.
If you have lost a loved one, you may be feeling a mixture of confusion, anger, and pain, but you don’t need to go through the claims process alone. The experienced Santa Fe wrongful death attorneys from Zinda Law Group understand how sensitive these cases can be, and we are prepared to help you.
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Chapter 41 of the New Mexico Code allows wrongful death lawsuits to be filed if your loved one is killed “by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”
This lawsuit typically seeks compensation from the party who caused the accident or otherwise caused their loved one’s death. While no amount of compensation can ever bring your loved one back, you may be able to gain some closure by holding the person who caused the accident liable for their behavior.
To hold someone liable for the death of your loved one, you will generally need to be able to show that the other party’s intentional act or negligent behavior contributed to or caused the death.
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For a free legal consultation with a wrongful death lawyer serving Santa Fe, call 800-863-5312
Common Wrongful Death Claims in Santa Fe
A valid wrongful death claim requires that someone’s negligence or intentional act of violence resulted in the death of an individual. Some of the most common reasons for filing a wrongful death lawsuit include:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
One of the most common causes of wrongful death cases is car accidents. Car and truck accidents may cause significant damage or death, especially if the accident involves a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian with little to no protection.
The speed and force involved in many car accidents may result in death, while the accident may have been avoidable. Auto accidents may be caused by speeding, driving while intoxicated, distracted driving, fatigued driving, or other causes.
The liable party is usually the at-fault driver, but it can be an employer, a car manufacturer, or even a municipal entity. It’s best to seek a free consultation with a Santa Fe personal injury attorney to determine if you have a valid claim for a wrongful death suit.
We trust doctors with our lives, and we expect them to be skilled and take great care when operating on us. However, a doctor may sometimes make mistakes, such as nicking an internal organ and causing internal bleeding or performing the wrong procedure.
Many medical malpractice claims may also involve a failure to diagnose what may be wrong or making an incorrect diagnosis. In many cases, the doctor or medical professional who made the mistake resulting in your loved one’s death may be liable for this error. At the same time, the hospital or the doctor’s employer may also be liable for medical malpractice.
In such a case, you will be facing the attorneys of a hospital, physician, drug maker, or a combination of all of these. You will need help from a Santa Fe wrongful death attorney to ensure you are treated fairly in a settlement or legal proceedings.
Slip and Fall Claims and Other Premises Liability Cases
Slip and falls are among the most common personal injury claims, sometimes resulting in the victim’s death, especially for elderly victims. Slip and falls may be caused by
- Spilled liquids on the floor
- Worn carpeting
- Uneven flooring
- Lack of maintenance on stairs or walkways
- Objects in a walkway
Many other trip and fall hazards could result in injuries. Typically, if you fall on someone else’s property, slip and fall cases hold the property owner accountable for failing to correct the dangerous condition that caused the fall.
Other premises liability claims can include:
- Dog bites
- Lack of Security (that leads to assault, shootings, or other fatal consequences)
- Premises accidents like slip and falls, electrocution, or other hazardous conditions that caused a death on someone else’s property
When we purchase a product, we expect it to function as intended, and we expect it to be safe. However, some products may contain a defect that causes them to be dangerous. A defective product may cause serious injuries or even death in some cases, such as when an electrical tool malfunctions and electrocutes the person using it.
Typically, defects in products may include a design defect that led to a product being unsafe for its intended use. A product may also have a manufacturing defect where the product was defective because of an error in the manufacturing process, such as using substandard materials. Finally, some products may be unsafe because of a lack of warning or poorly written instructions by the manufacturer.
If your loved one was killed by a defective product, you may be able to hold the manufacturer liable for any manufacturing defects, design defects, or a failure to warn. Distributors or retailers involved within the distribution chain of the defective product may also be held liable for the deaths for failing to ensure the product was safe before selling it to the consumer.
Any sickness or injury sustained on the job is considered a work-related injury. The death can occur instantly, or it can result from the injuries sustained on the job. For example, an employee at a construction site may be killed in a fall from scaffolding.
However, an injury at work might also happen gradually over time. For instance, a chemical industry worker might get sick from being exposed to such chemicals and contract a fatal illness. In any case, remember that there are a wide variety of potential occupational injuries.
The wrongful death lawyers of our firm in Santa Fe can help to determine if negligence was a factor in the loss of your loved one and fight to hold the responsible parties accountable.
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Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New Mexico?
In New Mexico, only the authorized personal representative of the deceased victim’s estate can bring a wrongful death claim. If the victim had a will or estate plan that appointed a personal representative for the estate, this person can bring any wrongful death lawsuit for the victim’s death.
If there was no will or estate plan, or the victim had not named a personal representative for the estate, the court will generally appoint a personal representative for the estate. You can consult with a Santa Fe wrongful death attorney to learn more about representation and how to file a claim.
What Damages May Be Available for a Wrongful Death Claim?
The damages that may be available following the death of a loved one may be different from other personal injury claims. In wrongful death lawsuits, damages typically include compensation for losses to the victim’s loved ones, such as:
- Loss of support, including the victim’s financial contributions to the household
- Loss of inheritance
- Pain and suffering suffered by the victim after the accident and before their death
- Any of the victim’s medical costs incurred from the accident before the victim’s death
- Any lost income between the accident and the victim’s death
- Loss of future wages and earning capacity of the victim
- Emotional or mental anguish suffered by the victim’s child, spouse, or parent
- Loss of companionship, support, or protection provided by the victim
- Loss of consortium
- Any reasonable funeral and burial expenses incurred
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Statute of Limitations
Another important consideration when thinking about filing a wrongful death lawsuit in Santa Fe is the legal time limits for doing so. This legal time limit, called the statute of limitations, sets forth the period during which you may file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
In New Mexico, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, including wrongful death claims, is three years from the date of the fatal accident pursuant to Section 41-2-2 for the New Mexico Statutes. You must file the lawsuit before the expiration of this time period, or your claim may be permanently barred.
As a result, you should speak with a Santa Fe wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible after the fatal accident to discuss your legal options. You must make sure your attorney has sufficient time to thoroughly investigate your claim, determine who may be liable for the accident, and file the lawsuit on time.
How Zinda Law Group May Help You File a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims are often much more complicated than typical personal injury claims, as you are seeking compensation for your loved one’s death rather than the victim being alive to pursue the claim themselves.
Thus, many damages may often be more difficult and complex to prove than in typical personal injury claims. An experienced wrongful death lawyer in Santa Fe may help you navigate this complicated process.
If you are considering filing a wrongful death claim in Santa Fe, it is important to understand the process and what to expect when pursuing legal action. The steps your wrongful death attorney in Santa Fe takes to prove liability and seek compensation on your behalf may include the following:
Consultation and Investigation
Your Zinda Law Group team may begin by discussing your options and rights under New Mexico law to help you understand the best step forward. After hiring a Zinda Law Group attorney, your lawyer may thoroughly investigate the accident that caused your loved one’s death and gather evidence to prove who was liable for the accident.
Before negotiations or court proceedings can begin, you must determine the damages sustained by your loved one’s death. This may include items such as funeral and burial costs, lost wages that your loved one would have earned, loss of consortium if the deceased was a spouse, and any medical expenses related to the incident.
After thoroughly investigating the accident and gathering necessary evidence proving liability and damages, your attorney may begin negotiating with the other party’s insurance company on your behalf. Your lawyer’s goal is to seek a satisfactory settlement agreement that may avoid the time and expense of taking your lawsuit to court.
Insurance companies have teams of lawyers whose sole jobs are to make sure the insurance company pays as little compensation as possible to settle claims made against an insured. This team of lawyers makes it crucial that you hire an experienced wrongful death attorney in Santa Fe that may help level this playing field.
The insurer may dispute the other party’s liability for the accident or may claim that some intervening cause was responsible for your loved one’s death. This is why seeking legal representation from an experienced wrongful death attorney in Santa Fe is so important.
Settlement or Trial
This negotiation process may go back and forth as both sides argue the strengths of their positions and make offers and counteroffers. If you reach an agreement with the other party, your lawsuit may be settled without having to go to trial.
However, if the insurance company refuses to agree to a reasonable settlement amount, your Santa Fe wrongful death lawyer may have to take your case to trial. Here, your attorney may present available evidence proving the other party’s liability for the accident that caused your loved one’s death.
Get Help from a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Santa Fe Today
At Zinda Law Group, our Santa Fe lawyers may help you with your claim. Our attorneys have years of experience helping our clients seek maximum compensation for their Santa Fe wrongful death claim.
Contact us today for a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers. You will not pay anything unless we can win your wrongful death case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA BY THE NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION (2016-2020)
AWARDED TO JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA (2009, 2011-2012, 2014-2021), JOE CAPUTO (2019-2021), BURGESS WILLIAMS (2019-2020), & NEIL SOLOMON (2020-2021)
AWARDED TO JACK ZINDA (2016-2020), JOE CAPUTO (2016 – 2020) & BURGESS WILLIAMS (2016-2017)
LIFETIME MEMBERS JOHN C. (JACK) ZINDA & JOE CAPUTO