An unexpected death could be devastating to a family. Upon learning someone died due to another party’s negligence, a family may file a wrongful death lawsuit in a New Mexico courtroom. Regardless of how egregious the negligence is, the plaintiff must file his or her lawsuit within New Mexico’s stipulated statute of limitations.
The time available to file a wrongful death suit
Under New Mexico law, a plaintiff has three years to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit from when the “cause of action accrues.” The law defines the term “cause of action accrues” as the date of death.
The law also stipulates who may file the lawsuit and seek damages. The laws differ from state to state, and New Mexico’s statutes explicitly define who may receive compensation. Regardless of how many relatives or heirs the deceased has, if the person was married with no children, the surviving spouse takes precedence to file a suit.
If the deceased has a living spouse, children and grandchildren, the proceeds from the suit would be divided 50/50 between the spouse and the children/grandchildren. Such matters may come up in discussions when planning to file a lawsuit. Again, actions must occur before the three-year period ends. Once that happens, a lawsuit is not possible.
Wrongful death and negligence
The core element of a wrongful death suit is negligence. Generally, someone’s action or non-action inadvertently or purposely led to someone’s death. Personal representatives with standing could then explore their options for a civil suit.
Plaintiffs could seek damages for lost financial support, pain and suffering, and more. As long as the case is within the statute of limitations, the process could move forward.