The idea of going to court after a loved one dies can be distasteful, but it may be the only way to hold a business or individual responsible for what they have done to your family. All too often, the party who causes a fatal crash or a household accident won’t face criminal prosecution. The only available means of seeking justice involves the civil courts.
Under New Mexico law, the personal representative of your loved one’s estate can bring a claim against a business or individual in civil court. They will then distribute the proceeds from any successful lawsuits among the closest family members of the deceased individual.
There are rules that apply to the damages you can seek in such a claim. State law allows for a wrongful death claim to include two specific kinds of damages. What can you hold someone accountable for after a loved one’s death?
Most people think of compensatory damages when they think of a wrongful death lawsuit. Those directly affected by a tragedy can take a business or individual court and request compensation based on the financial losses incurred.
Hospital bills, funeral expenses and even property damage losses related to the incident can all add to the total amount of compensatory damages sought in a wrongful death lawsuit. Lost future income can also be a major contributor to the total value of compensatory damages.
The state also allows those harmed by the actions or negligence of another party to seek exemplary or punitive damages. The goal of this form of compensation is to punish the other party for willful misconduct or gross negligence. Scenarios including corporate negligence and fatal drunk driving crashes could lead to significant exemplary damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit.
There is no cap for exemplary damages, which means that more severe misconduct could lead to larger awards. The amount that the courts award the plaintiff in a wrongful death lawsuit will both protect surviving family members from the financial losses after someone dies and serve as a means of punishing the party to blame for the tragedy.
Making sense of the rules that determine your rights in a wrongful death scenario can help you hold someone else responsible for the damage they have caused your family.