It’s an indescribable tragedy when a friend or family member has passed away as a result of the negligence of another. When this occurs, some people are able to bring a wrongful death suit against the responsible party in order to recover compensation for the death of their loved one. The court then divides this compensation between certain specific people, as defined by law. How can you know if you are in the group of people who has standing to bring a wrongful death suit on behalf of your deceased loved one, or to receive compensation?
Who can bring the lawsuit?
Only one person can bring a wrongful death suit against the responsible party. This is so that the court doesn’t have to deal with a separate lawsuit for each individual member of the victim’s family – and because the recovery will be distributed among the victim’s family regardless of who brings the suit.
The person who brings the suit is the personal representative of the deceased person. This is often the executor of the deceased´s estate, but it can also be some else if circumstances require it.
Who will receive the proceeds?
If someone brings a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party, and they are successful, they will likely recover a sum of money as the court determines. Then, New Mexico law lays out the order in which the deceased’s family members can receive distributions of the recovery.
If the victim left behind a surviving spouse but no children, the spouse would receive all of the recovery. If there are children, then the surviving spouse takes half, and the children split the other half. After spouses and children, next in line are the victim´s parents, followed by their siblings.
This means that, if you have any other relationship to the deceased (such as being a cousin, nephew or friend) you cannot recover a portion of the recovery under New Mexico law.
No amount of money can possibly make up for the loss of a loved one. But a wrongful death suit can help those who depended upon the deceased for material support to get their lives back in order after their loss.