Although every death is a tragedy for the individuals and families involved, not every death leads to criminal prosecution or a civil lawsuit. Someone dying of natural causes or in a weather-related accident is a tragic occurrence but also one that is ultimately not the fault of another person or a business.
However, sometimes sudden deaths occur because of an individual’s law-breaking or negligence. Businesses can also cause fatalities through misconduct and default. Examples of wrongful death scenarios include drunk drivers who cause crashes and businesses releasing dangerous products to the public.
If your family has reason to believe that the death of a loved one recently was the result of one person or business doing something illegal or being clearly negligent, you may have legal grounds to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit under New Mexico law?
Family members can benefit but cannot file
The point of a wrongful death lawsuit is to connect surviving dependent family members with the compensation necessary to offset the recent and tragic loss of a family member. The lawsuit also serves as a way to impose a financial penalty on the responsible party.
Spouses, children and even parents may feel the financial impact of an unexpected death. Being subject to the consequences caused by a recent loss does not give you the right to file a lawsuit. Only the personal representative of the estate can file the lawsuit.
The personal representative handling the probate process is the same person who will need to file a wrongful death claim. They will pursue compensation in the civil court, and if they are successful, they will then need to distribute the proceeds of the lawsuit among the family members as appropriate.
Why a wrongful death lawsuit helps
Family members should not have to absorb expenses like medical bills, funeral costs and decades of lost wages because of someone else’s mistake or bad behavior. Your family will have enough of a challenge dealing the emotional and household consequences without needing to cover those financial losses.
Talking to the personal representative on the estate can be a good first step when you think that your family has reason to file a wrongful death lawsuit.