Those harmed by others may have the right to take action and legal court. In New Mexico, statutes allow for personal injury lawsuits when one party hurts someone else. Wrongful death lawsuits are an important subset of basic personal injury lawsuits. A wrongful death lawsuit may allow those affected by the sudden loss of a loved one to limit the practical consequences of someone’s untimely death.
A successful lawsuit may give families a sense of closure and can also create consequences for those who harm others through their bad behavior. However, there are rules that limit wrongful death lawsuits in specific ways that should be understood by anyone who is seeking to file for this kind of relief.
Only one party can file
Plenty of people may feel profound grief and experience provable consequences when someone dies unexpectedly. However, only one party technically has the legal authority to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Under New Mexico law, such claims typically come from the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. While family members may receive proceeds from the lawsuit, they cannot initiate litigation.
The family must act quickly
The grief of losing someone may last for years and permanently alter people’s personalities. The right to take legal action does not persist indefinitely after someone’s untimely passing. The law in New Mexico typically requires that people initiate a wrongful death lawsuit within three years of someone dying. Failure to do so would very likely lead to a loss of the ability to hold a business or person accountable. Only in rare circumstances where new evidence comes to light years later are wrongful death lawsuits possible when the timeline extends beyond the three years indicated in the statute of limitations.
The defendant must be responsible for the death
To successfully hold a business or individual responsible for someone’s death, the plaintiffs in a case need clear evidence. New Mexico law generally requires proof that the death is a result of either negligence or wrongful acts. Wrongful acts may include criminal activity and regulatory infractions. The standard for such evidence is lower than it would be in criminal court. Families that could not convince the state to bring charges against a party could still obtain justice through civil litigation in some cases.
Understanding the rules that govern wrongful death lawsuits may empower grieving families in New Mexico to seek justice in civil court.