Can my family seek damages for our mental anguish caused by the death of our loved one?
Accidental deaths claim the lives of over 145,000 people every year, according to the National Safety Council. The number of accidental deaths has increased in recent years, making accidental deaths now the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., below mega killers cancer, heart disease, and chronic lung disease. Wrongful deaths can occur from any number of accidents, including car accidents, truck accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, and workplace incidents. Losing a loved one in an unexpected accident can be devastating to a family on all levels. Family members of a wrongfully killed loved one may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible party in the state of New Mexico.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
New Mexico law specifies that a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate. Generally, the personal representative will have been named in the decedent’s will. If no estate plan exists, then the court will appoint a personal representative. While the personal representative is charged with filing the action, damages awarded will be for the benefit of the surviving family members.
Benefits will go towards the decedent’s closest surviving family members. If the decedent was married and had children, the damages awarded will be split between the surviving spouse and children. For those without children, but with a spouse, damages in a wrongful death suit will go to the surviving spouse alone.
What Types of Damages Can Be Awarded in a Wrongful Death Suit?
Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit in New Mexico will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the death. Types of damages that could be awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit include the following:
- Funeral and burial costs;
- Medical expenses relating to the decedent’s medical care prior to death;
- Mental anguish of the surviving spouse, children, or parents;
- Loss of companionship;
- Financial contributions to the household that the decedent would have made;
- Loss of inheritance;
- Pain and suffering experienced by the decedent prior to death.
Under some circumstances, punitive damages may additionally be awarded to punish the wrongdoer. These damages are only awarded when the actions of the defendant have been particularly egregious. While wrongful death damages can never bring back your lost loved one, they can go a long way towards aiding the family financially during the tragedy. Contact a wrongful death lawyer to take action today.
Posted in: Wrongful Death