More than 36,750 people died in car accidents in 2018 in the United States, and many more are injured. To make matters worse, one in four New Mexican drivers are totally uninsured. Two people died as a result of a car accident in Albuquerque New Mexico. A deputy was in pursuit of a vehicle when it crashed into another vehicle at Sapphire and Unser SW, according to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. The crash killed the driver and one of the females and left the other critically injured. The driver of the other vehicle was also injured and taken to a hospital.
New Mexico Statute Section 41-2-1 defines a wrongful death as one that is “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.” The definition includes deaths caused by a wrongful act that amounts to a felony under New Mexico law. One way to think of a wrongful death claim in New Mexico is as a personal injury claim that the deceased person is no longer able to bring him or herself. Instead, the survivors of the deceased person must bring the claim to court, to establish the defendant’s liability and to seek damages. If a criminal case is filed based on similar facts due to an accident, a wrongful death claim may still be brought to civil court. It is prudent to seek legal counsel because a criminal case can affect a wrongful death claim in many ways.
Wrongful death actions can be brought by a personal representative of the deceased for compensatory and exemplary damages considering the pecuniary injury resulting from the death to the survivors. Distributions of any proceeds will be given to:
if there is a surviving spouse and no child, then to the spouse;
if there is a surviving spouse and a child or grandchild, then one-half to the surviving spouse and the remaining one-half to the children and grandchildren, the grandchildren taking by right of representation;
if there is no husband or wife, but a child or grandchild, then to such child and grandchild by right of representation;
if the deceased is a minor, childless and unmarried, then to the father and mother who shall have an equal interest in the judgment, or if either of them is dead, then to the survivor;
if there is no father, mother, husband, wife, child or grandchild, then to a surviving brother or sister.
Personal injury and insurance.
Financial responsibility for damages will be determined under New Mexico’s “fault” system, meaning the person who was legally at fault for causing the accident must compensate anyone who was injured or whose property was damaged. Negligence will be easier to prove if the other driver was driving recklessly, breaking traffic laws or intoxicated.
The minimum coverage a licensed driver must carry is:
$25,000 for injury to or death of one person,
$50,000 for injury to or death of two or more persons, and
$10,000 for property damage.
In fatal accidents the surviving family members have a right to sue seeking compensation for the survivors, such as lost wages from the deceased, lost companionship and funeral expenses.
Seek legal counsel.
Damages will be high for injured parties after a fatal car accident where criminal and civil actions may drag out, so it is imperative to seek experienced legal counsel at the Law Offices of Brian K. Branch who can help navigate the way toward a settlement when a wrongful death has devastated a family’s life.