Wrongful death lawsuits are among the most challenging types of personal injury claims to pursue. Even if a family is dealing with the personal loss and emotional anguish of a loved one’s death, they may be unaware that the law may allow them to collect financial compensation if another party was legally responsible for the death of their loved one. If a member of your family has died, it’s critical to understand when to contact a New Jersey wrongful death attorney and file a claim.
When can you file a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death claim can be filed if the victim – referred to as the “decedent” – might have filed a personal injury lawsuit against another if the victim had lived. A wrongful death claim can be filed in New Jersey when a person’s death is caused by the “wrongful act, neglect, or default of another.”
A wrongful death claim can be brought for acts of negligence that result in the death of a family member, such as a driver’s carelessness that causes a car collision or a doctor’s error that results in medical malpractice.
To prove negligence, your family must establish four major factors.
These four components must be presented to prove a party’s liability:
Duty: The party responsible for your loved one’s death owes the decedent a duty of care.
Breach: The at-fault party’s actions fell short of the prescribed duty of care (such as a motorist speeding or driving under the influence)
Causation: Your loved one’s death was caused directly and proximally by the responsible party’s violation of their duty of care.
Damages: Your family and a loved one have incurred losses for which you can be reimbursed monetarily under the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
In New Jersey, the decedent’s representative must file a wrongful death claim, usually the administrator or executor of the deceased person’s estate (often a spouse or relative). The personal representative files the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the decedent’s remaining family members who are entitled to inherit from them under intestacy statutes, which includes:
- A spouse who has survived
- Children (including legally adopted children) and other descendants who are still living
- Parents who are still living
- Surviving siblings
A surviving family member must prove some type of true dependence on the deceased to seek damages for wrongful death.
What damages can you recover in a wrongful death case?
In New Jersey, a wrongful death lawsuit may typically only be used to recover actual financial losses sustained due to the death of an individual. In a distinct but related “survival” action, the decedent’s pain and suffering may be recovered.
Surviving family members may not be entitled to compensation for bereavement and emotional distress, but they may be able to file a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress if they were there and observed the accident or event that resulted in their loved one’s death.
In a wrongful death case, you may be entitled to the following compensation:
- Loss of the decedent’s potential financial contributions to their family and home throughout the duration of their projected career or lifespan, including salaries, income, and employment benefits
- Loss of the economic worth of services supplied by the decedent to their family, such as child care, cleaning, and home upkeep
- Expenses for a reasonable burial and medical service – these damages are demonstrated by invoices and receipts
What is the time limit for filing a wrongful death lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims in New Jersey normally requires that a lawsuit be filed within two years after the decedent’s death. This deadline may be prolonged or “tolled” under certain situations. Failure to bring a case before the limitations period on a wrongful death claim ends may result in the court permanently dismissing any lawsuit filed.
Contact Grossman Law Firm for help today
Have you lost a loved one in New Jersey due to someone else’s negligence? Allowing medical expenses and funeral fees to pile up while you wait for the irresponsible party or their insurance company to do the right thing adds to an already stressful situation.
You urgently need an aggressive personal injury lawyer to represent you in court and obtain the compensation you require and deserve. To schedule a free and private consultation, call us today at (732) 625-9494.