Because Your Future Matters

When can those who’ve lost a loved one in a crash go to court?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Wrongful Death |

Motor vehicle trips are typically uneventful. But, motor vehicle collisions are among the leading causes of serious injuries and fatalities. There are rare instances where paths cross with the wrong party, which can result in severe injury or even death.

Families grieving a fatal collision may decide to take the matter to civil court. New Mexico does have laws allowing wrongful death lawsuits when death results from someone else’s wrongful act, neglect or default. When might surviving family members have reason to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New Mexico? 

When there is clear evidence of fault

Some people mistakenly think they can only file a lawsuit if the state prosecutes the other driver. This is not the case. Families can file wrongful death lawsuits even if the state did not prosecute or secure a conviction. Evidence should indicate that wrongful acts or omissions caused the tragedy.

Breaking traffic laws, such as drunk driving or not properly maintaining a vehicle, could make someone legally responsible for a fatal collision.

If most of the evidence points to one party’s negligence or misconduct, it shows they caused the tragedy. In such cases, grieving family members may have a valid reason to take legal action.

Compensable losses

A wrongful death lawsuit can compensate families for losses, including potential future income from the deceased. New Mexico law also allows damages for pain and suffering, as well as loss of companionship. In extreme cases where the wrongful act was particularly reckless, they may ask for punitive damages.

Wrongful death suits can provide a sense of justice when no other significant penalties have been imposed on the person or business responsible for a fatal collision. However, it is important to remember that families must file a lawsuit within three years in New Mexico.

Legal help when filing a suit

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can be an appropriate response to a preventable tragedy that prematurely ends someone’s life due to negligence or intentional conduct. However, filing a suit involves working through complex legal procedures, gathering and presenting evidence and effectively arguing the case in court, among other things.

Going through these procedures can be complex for families already bearing the emotional burden of losing a loved one. A legal professional can help them navigate the process and understand their specific circumstances.