Wrongful Death in New Mexico

In New Mexico, a “wrongful death” is a death caused by an act or omission of another that would have led to a personal injury case if the person had survived. Wrongful death claims typically arise when a person dies due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional acts or omissions of another person or entity.

Common Wrongful Death in New Mexico Recognized Claims

Car Accidents
If a person dies in a car accident caused by another driver’s negligence, the at-fault driver may be liable.
Medical Malpractice

If a healthcare provider’s negligence or medical error results in a patient’s death, the healthcare provider, facility, or other responsible parties may be liable for wrongful death.

Workplace Accidents

If a worker dies due to unsafe working conditions, employer negligence, or a workplace accident, the employer or other responsible parties may be liable for wrongful death.

Defective Products

If a defective product causes someone’s death, the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the product may be held liable in a wrongful death claim.

Intentional Acts

If someone’s intentional actions, such as assault, battery, or homicide, lead to another person’s death, the surviving family members may have a wrongful death claim against the perpetrator.

Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect

If a nursing home resident dies due to abuse, neglect, or inadequate care, the family may pursue a wrongful death claim against the nursing home or its staff.

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New Mexico Wrongful Death Frequently Asked Questions

Who can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Mexico?

Generally, only the Personal Representative of a deceased person’s estate has the power to file a Wrongful Death claim. That PR can be the Estate PR (through the probate process) or the Wrongful Death PR.

What can I Recover in a Claim for Wrongful Death?

A Wrongful Death claim is typically brought by a personal representative on behalf of the deceased person. So the damages and compensation available is typically the same as that available in a personal injury case, including:

  • Lost value of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages and financial benefits
  • Medical expenses related to the person’s illness or injury
  • Lost financial contributions to the person’s family
  • Funeral expenses and burial costs
  • Punitive damages and Aggravating Circumstances damages
Who gets the Proceeds from a Wrongful Death Claim?

New Mexico’s Wrongful Death Act specifies who gets the proceeds of a settlement or judgment obtained through a Wrongful Death claim. Essentially, the Wrongful Death PR collects the money on behalf of the deceased person’s Wrongful Death estate and then distributes the proceeds in a specific way laid out by the law. Typically, spouses and children are prioritized, and if there are no spouses or children, proceeds go to other family members.

Wrongful Death Claims in New Mexico

There are two Kinds of Wrongful Death Investigations and Claims in New Mexico: Probate and the Wrongful Death Act

New Mexico provides two different avenues for a person to investigate and pursue a claim for a loved one’s wrongful death: the probate process and the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act. At New Mexico Probate and Estate Lawyers, we have experience investigating and prosecuting claims through both channels.

Investigating Wrongful Death in Probate

Under the Probate Code, a deceased person’s estate may investigate and, if necessary, pursue any kind of claim the deceased person may have had if the person had been alive. That includes claims for wrongful death (and personal injury). Typically, the estate’s personal representative is the person who has the power to investigate and, if necessary, pursue that wrongful death claim. Once the PR is appointed, they can request medical records and important documents to determine whether to pursue a claim.

Wrongful Death Investigations under the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act

New Mexico’s Wrongful Death Act, NMSA 1978, §§ 41-2-1 to -4, provides a separate avenue outside of probate for the investigation and prosecution of a wrongful death claim. The Wrongful Death Personal Representative generally has the same investigative powers as an Estate PR, but the Wrongful Death PR does not have to be the PR of the Estate. In fact, sometimes it can be more effective if the Wrongful Death PR is not the PR of the Estate.

We are Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys

If you believe a loved one has been killed as a result of the wrongful conduct of another person or a corporation or governmental entity, contact us. Our experienced attorneys can guide you and your loved one’s estate through the complicated wrongful death process to investigate any claims and, if necessary, bring them through a lawsuit or other form of claim.