If your loved one lost their life because of someone’s negligence, grief and sadness can often turn to anger, especially when questions about what really happened are left unanswered. Had the party responsible for the loss of your loved one been more careful, they might be still here today. In circumstances such as this, a wrongful death lawsuit may be warranted and can be important in helping to arrive at answers about what really happened.
A lawsuit for wrongful death in Texas or New Mexico won’t bring back the person you have lost, but a settlement could help cover funeral expenses and provide a safety net if the person who lost his or her life was your home’s breadwinner. Additionally, funds from such a settlement or verdict could help secure the future of children the deceased may have left behind. Here’s how to prove negligence in wrongful death cases.
Proving Negligence in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death is explained as a death caused by the reckless, careless, negligent, or intentional acts (or omissions) of another.
Proving negligence follows a similar process in New Mexico and Texas. The first element to prove is “duty of care.” The defendant must have owed your loved one a duty to act in a certain way. Common duties include the duty to drive safely, to observe safety protocols and procedures, and to obey the law.
You’ll also need to prove that they breached this duty and that this breach caused your loved one’s death.
What if an Intentional Act Caused Your Loved One’s Death?
If someone intentionally harmed and killed your loved one, they may face criminal charges. The bar for proving guilt in a criminal case is much higher than it is for a civil one, however. That’s because the prosecution will need to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a civil case, though, proof is needed to show that the defendant’s negligence was sufficiently related to the death. In most cases, criminal acts are also negligent acts. However, when the other person acted with the intention of causing serious harm or death, it can be difficult to obtain a recovery from insurance companies, who may try to deny coverage for the incident. An experienced attorney can help navigate these issues for you.
Who Can File Wrongful Death Claims in Texas or New Mexico?
In Texas, the surviving spouse, children, and parents may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Adoptive children and parents can file as well. If the family doesn’t make a claim within three months, a personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file.
New Mexico is much stricter. In New Mexico, only the personal representative of the estate can file. If the person didn’t have an estate plan, the court would appoint someone to file on their behalf. Attorneys can assist with this.
Damages You Can Seek for a Wrongful Death
In most cases you are allowed to seek damages, which may include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills up to the date of death
- Pain and suffering of the person before their death
- Lost wages had the person lived
- Lost inheritance
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of counseling and guidance
- Mental distress
Let Our Law Firm Help During This Difficult Time
If you intend to file a wrongful death action, you’ll need to act quickly. In New Mexico, you have three years to file wrongful death claims, and in Texas and North Dakota, you have two years. To start your case for wrongful death in Texas or New Mexico, contact Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy & Conaway, P.C. at 432-335-0399 today.