Wrongful Death Attorneys In New Jersey
When a loved one dies, the grief is devastating and long-lasting. When a loved one dies in a wrongful death, the grief may also be deeply horrific.
The New Jersey lawyers at Parker Waichman LLP have decades of experience working with New Jersey families who have experienced the catastrophe of a loved one’s wrongful death and have, not only the knowledge of New Jersey laws, but the discretion, understanding, and compassion working with families who have gone through the unspeaking loss and complex legal issues associated with a wrongful death.
New Jersey defines a wrongful death as a death that is the result of a wrongful act, neglect, or the default of another person or entity. The conditions that caused the wrongful death must be such that, had the deceased person lived, he or she would have been able to bring a personal injury claim over his or her injuries or illnesses.
Wrongful death actions may be brought, for instance, over construction accidents; medical malpractice; vehicular accidents; airplane accidents; police misconduct; or product liability, including when that liability involves allegedly defective, dangerous products, drugs, and medical devices.
The purpose of the laws involved in a wrongful death claim are constructed to that, when a claim that is brought over a wrongful death, the claim may be understood as a personal injury claim in which the injured person is no longer available to bring his or her own claim to court. In a wrongful death case, another party must bring the claim on behalf of the deceased person.
Are New Jersey Wrongful Death Cases Heard in Civil Court or Criminal Court?
New Jersey allows a wrongful death claim to be filed in civil court even if a related criminal case exists and has also been filed. A wrongful death claim is a civil claim and must be filed by the personal representative or the beneficiaries directly; liability must be expressed in terms of monetary damage and the claim is brought in civil court.
A prosecuting attorney files a criminal case and fault is expressed with incarceration, probation, and other penalties and may legally involve the circumstances that are brought in a civil case.
An example of this involves the alleged murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman. Although OJ Simpson was found not guilty in the criminal case. Following his acquittal of criminal charges, the family of Ronald L. Goldman filed a civil lawsuit against Simpson. Simpson was ordered to pay $25 million in punitive damages to the families of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman to be split evenly ($12.5 million to each family).
The same jury also awarded the Goldman family $8.5 million in compensatory damages; the family of Nicole Brown Simpson opted against seeking compensatory damages.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in New Jersey
The time limit—known as the Statute of Limitations—in New Jersey required to file a wrongful death claim is within two years from the date of the deceased person’s death. Should the claim not filed within that two-year time frame, the claim will likely be barred from court entirely.
Several factors may impact the running of the statute of limitations; therefore, if you are close to the two-year deadline it is prudent to speak to an experienced a New Jersey wrongful death attorney, such as the New Jersey attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP who will be able to determine your compliance with the statute of limitations.
Who Is Permitted To File A Wrongful Death Claim In New Jersey?
A wrongful death claim in New Jersey may be brought on behalf of the surviving family members and is generally filed by the executor or personal representative of the estate. Recovered damages are distributed to surviving family members who were dependent on the deceased person at the time of death or who are entitled to inherit from the deceased person under New Jersey’s inheritance laws.
Individuals permitted to receive a portion of the damages in a New Jersey wrongful death case include the surviving spouse and children or grandchildren; the surviving parents of the deceased person; any surviving siblings, nieces, or nephews of the deceased person; and any person who is able to prove that he or she was dependent on the deceased person.
Typically, among family members, the surviving spouse or children are considered first. Parents will inherit if there is no surviving spouse or child. If there are no surviving parents, then the surviving siblings, nieces, or nephews of a deceased person may receive damages in the wrongful death case.
Damages in a New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In a New Jersey wrongful death lawsuit, damages are meant to compensate the estate as well as the surviving family members for losses caused due to the death of the deceased. New Jersey wrongful death claim losses may include loss of financial support. The figure is based on the compensation that the deceased might have reasonably been expected to earn if he or she had lived.
Claim losses also include loss of companionship, comfort, care, and guidance; the loss of value of household surfaces, including cleaning, various chores, and childcare; and what would be deemed reasonable medical, funeral, and burial expenses associated with the deceased person’s final injury or illness.
In New Jersey, the law does not permit surviving family to recover damages for emotional distress or punitive damages in a wrongful death cases. Family members may, however, file a separate claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress to seek damages for severe emotional distress caused by the allegedly wrongful death if that surviving family member was present at the time when the death occurred and suffered significant distress as a result of what was witnessed.
To Determine if You Have A Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New Jersey
The New Jersey attorneys Parker Waichman have a long history of successfully fighting wrongful death cases and recovering compensation for their clients for lost wages, medical expenses, and diminished quality of life. The firm offers legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
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