Finding a Wrongful Death Lawyer in Albuquerque
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Despite Albuquerque, New Mexico’s beauty, it can be dangerous. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, New Mexico was the deadliest state for pedestrians in 2021. Plus, New Mexico’s car accidents caused 479 traffic fatalities in 2021.
Perhaps someone you love has been killed due to someone’s carelessness or negligent behavior. Under the law, you may be able to obtain compensation under a wrongful death claim. You’ll need an experienced Albuquerque wrongful death lawyer to guide you through the process of filing a claim.
The compassionate attorneys at Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. are here to help. Our Albuquerque wrongful death lawyers have represented clients against insurance companies and individuals. We can help you understand your rights and options during this trying time. Contact us online or call (800) 433-2408 today to get started!
Wrongful Death Under New Mexico Law
New Mexico law defines wrongful death as a death “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” One characteristic of wrongful death is that if the victim had lived, they could have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the wrongdoer.
For a wrongful death claim, the at-fault party must have caused the death as the result of one of the following:
- A wrongful act—committing an illegal or criminal act;
- Negligence—failing to take proper care while doing something; or
- Default—failing to do something.
Although these definitions appear simple, they are legally complicated. A knowledgeable wrongful death attorney in Albuquerque will be able to assess the circumstances of your case.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims
Just like injuries, wrongful deaths can be caused by many different circumstances.
Common causes of wrongful death include:
- Car, truck, or motorcycle accidents;
- Pedestrian accidents;
- Medical malpractice;
- Work-related accidents;
- Defective products;
- Construction site accidents; or
- Bicycle accidents.
In addition, criminal acts and intentional misconduct, including murder, can form the basis of a wrongful death claim. You should speak with an Albuquerque wrongful death lawyer to discover if you have a claim.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
Not just anyone can bring a wrongful death claim. In New Mexico, only the deceased person’s personal representative can bring a wrongful death claim. Generally, a personal representative is the executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate. The court can appoint a personal representative if the individual dies without a will.
Compensation Available in Wrongful Death Cases
Money does not bring your loved one back or assuage your grief. However, financial compensation is how the law tries to remedy injuries caused by problematic behavior.
The following types of compensation may be awarded in a wrongful death claim:
- Funeral or burial expenses,
- Medical costs associated with the decedent’s injury,
- Lost wages that the decedent was expected to earn,
- Loss of their financial contributions,
- Emotional distress damages, and
- Pain and suffering endured by the decedent.
The court may also award punitive damages if the at-fault party’s behavior was particularly problematic. Unlike other damages, punitive damages are not intended to compensate you for your loss. Instead, punitive damages are intended to punish the other party for their bad behavior—and deter similar future behavior.
You may reach a settlement with the other party that will include some of these costs. Often, the other party is the defendant’s insurance company, and adjusters will almost always try to whittle away your claim to pay the least amount possible.
You should contact an Albuquerque wrongful death attorney to ensure that you are adequately represented during settlement negotiations.
Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Like other states, New Mexico limits the amount of time that a party has to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in New Mexico is three years from the date of the person’s death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are common questions about Albuquerque, New Mexico, wrongful death claims.
Is There an Exception to the Time Limit for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?
There are some exceptions to the three-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. For example, if the death was caused by medical malpractice and the deceased was either incapacitated or a minor, a court can extend the statute of limitations.
Additionally, a court may extend the statute of limitations if the at-fault party “fraudulently concealed” the cause of the person’s death.
Fraudulent concealment occurs when the at-fault party hides or fails to disclose information that they are legally required to disclose. To extend the time limit, you must also show the personal representative did not know this information and couldn’t reasonably have discovered it.
Speaking with experienced lawyers for a wrongful death claim should clear up any questions you may have about whether your specific circumstances warrant an extension of the time limit.
Are Wrongful Death Damages Taxable?
Yes and no. The Internal Revenue Service excludes any compensation that you receive related to the deceased person’s injuries from personal income taxes.
This includes most of the damages listed above, such as medical costs, lost wages, emotional distress, and pain and suffering damages. However, a punitive damages award is still subject to taxation.
What if the Departed Was Partially At Fault?
New Mexico is a comparative negligence state. This means that if the harmed party was partially at fault for their injury, a court would assign a percentage of fault to them. Then, the court will reduce any award by this percentage of fault. For example, if the jury awards the injured party $100,000, and the injured party is 20% at fault, they will only recover $80,000.
The same is true in a wrongful death claim. If the deceased was partially at fault, the court would reduce the award in proportion to their percentage of fault. You should discuss your concerns about fault and the details of your specific situation with an experienced wrongful death law firm.
Contact FCHC Law for Your Albuquerque Wrongful Death Claims
Trying to navigate a New Mexico wrongful death claim after suffering the heartache of losing a loved one can be overwhelming. That’s why the experienced wrongful death attorneys at Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C are here for you.
We can help you understand your options and fight to protect your right to compensation for your losses. Contact us online or call (800) 433-2408 today to see if we can help.