No one likes to think about what would happen if they lost a loved one because of another person’s negligence. Whether through medical malpractice, a drunken-driving crash, or a workplace accident, tragic deaths can and do happen every day. In New Mexico, families of the deceased have the right to sue for wrongful death. New Mexico statute section 41-2-1 outlines the damages survivors in a wrongful death lawsuit can seek.
Wrongful death lawsuit attorneys require access to specific information to prove their case. Among the evidence needed is the deceased victim’s medical records. Official rulings from coroners and autopsy reports help personal injury attorneys prove your loved one died due to another person’s carelessness. Whether that person is a surgeon or a driver of another vehicle, showing the victim’s cause of death is crucial to winning – or settling – your case.
Surviving family members can initiate a wrongful death claim against a person or corporation directly responsible for their loved one’s death through negligence or intentional actions. Plaintiffs filed a wrongful death lawsuit through the deceased victim’s estate. The same burden of proof applies to wrongful death lawsuits like personal injury lawsuits. Claimants must present evidence that proves how their loved one died. Included in the kind of evidence deemed acceptable by New Mexico courts are the victim’s medical records.
Damages that survivors can seek in a wrongful death lawsuit include:
Survivors must file a wrongful death lawsuit claim within three years of the date of the victim’s death. If you believe your loved one was a victim of someone else’s negligence or deliberate actions, you must speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Surviving family members must provide evidence that supports a wrongful death case. Any proof must support the following four criteria:
Strong and convincing evidence helps establish a wrongful death lawsuit. Make sure you work with an experienced attorney who knows what proof is needed and how to obtain it.
You do not automatically have the right to a deceased person’s medical records, even if you are a surviving family member. Only personal representatives of the deceased person’s estate can obtain those records legally. New Mexico healthcare providers must follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which follows a strict protocol to protect a person’s healthcare history.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule gives you the right to:
If there is not an officially appointed executor of the deceased’s estate, you must petition the court to appoint one. According to New Mexico law, healthcare providers own medical records. They have the right to keep a copy of any medical information they have compiled but must grant you access when requested following proper protocol. Before you request access, make sure you are entitled to it to ensure a smoother process.
Every healthcare provider has specific procedures for requesting medical records. If you are working with a wrongful death attorney, they can contact the medical provider to ask their preference for requesting the records.
If the healthcare provider does not have a form for requesting the information, make sure you include the following in your request:
Obtaining an autopsy report is simpler. If the autopsy was performed by the Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI), then the report and all its findings are public record. To request a copy, send an email to the OMI office and complete the information required to obtain the records. Your wrongful death attorney can request the autopsy on the behalf of surviving family members.
Choosing an experienced wrongful death attorney can mean the difference between getting access to medical records to prove your case and being turned away without what you need to prove your case. Archibeque Law Firm offers a free consultation of your case. Contact us online or call 505-750-2363 to schedule an appointment.