Losing your child or your spouse can be devastating, and the pain is compounded if their death was caused by the careless or dangerous actions of someone else. In these instances, as a surviving family member or dependent, you may be entitled to recover damages associated with the loss of your loved one through a wrongful death lawsuit in NJ. While a monetary award will not bring your loved one back, it can go a long way toward relieving any financial stress you may be feeling in the aftermath of their death. If you and your family lost someone because of someone else’s negligent or reckless actions, it’s imperative that you call Parker Waichman LLP to speak with one of our New Jersey wrongful death attorneys right away to protect your legal rights. Call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) and one of our compassionate attorneys will help you to understand your options.
Grounds for Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New Jersey
In New Jersey, the phrase “wrongful death” is defined as a death that is caused by the neglect or wrongful act of another individual or entity. The facts and circumstances surrounding a wrongful death must be such that had your loved one lived, they would likely have been able to file a personal injury claim for injuries or other damages sustained in the incident.
Some typical situations in which a wrongful death action might arise include:
- Medical malpractice
- Construction accidents
- Other workplace accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Premises accidents
- Airplane accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Defective products
- Medication or prescription errors
- Defective or dangerous drugs or medical devices
- Toxic exposure
- Dog bites
- Nursing home abuse
- Police misconduct
- Criminal actions
The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to bring a personal injury lawsuit on behalf of a fatally injured person who can no longer bring the claim on their own behalf. In these instances, another individual, usually a family member, must consult a wrongful death attorney in New Jersey and file a claim on the deceased person’s behalf.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, wrongful death actions are usually brought by the surviving family members of the individual who was fatally injured due to another’s negligent or reckless actions. Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit will be filed by the personal representative or executor of the deceased’s estate. Any damages obtained from wrongful death settlements in New Jersey will usually be distributed among the surviving family members who depended on the deceased individual at the time of their death or those family members who are entitled to an inheritance from the deceased individual according to the inheritance laws in New Jersey.
Those who might be able to file a lawsuit with the help of a wrongful death attorney in NJ or who may be entitled to receive damages include surviving parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings, nephews, nieces or anyone who can establish that they were dependent on the deceased individual at the time of their death. Usually, among surviving family members, spouses and children are considered first when it comes to distribution of damages. However, parents of the deceased may be entitled to damages if there is no spouse or children. If there aren’t any surviving parents, then siblings, nephews or nieces of the deceased individual might be able to receive damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New Jersey
In a wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey, in addition to the conscious pain and suffering of the decedent, damages that are recoverable are intended to compensate surviving family members who sustain losses because of their loved one’s death. One of the most common types of damages in a wrongful death case is the loss of financial support. The compensation usually determines the amount that the deceased individual may have reasonably been expected to earn if they had not died. Damages in a wrongful death case can also include loss of care, comfort, companionship, and guidance; the loss of value of household services such as chores, cleaning, and child care; any expenses associated with medical treatment for the deceased individual’s last injury or illness; loss of inheritance; and funeral and burial expenses. If you lost a loved one because of the negligent or reckless actions of another, consult with an experienced New Jersey wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible to see what forms of compensation you may be able to pursue.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New Jersey
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is a type of lawsuit that arises when an individual dies because of the negligent, careless or intentional actions of another individual or entity. A wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey typically has two parts: a wrongful death action and a survival action.
The survival action is the part of the lawsuit that seeks damages associated with the decedent’s injuries before they passed away. These damages might include medical expenses, lost wages from the period of time between the injury and death, and pain and suffering. It’s also possible to recover punitive damages. Any damages that are recovered in this part of the lawsuit will usually be distributed to those who are entitled to receive an inheritance from the decedent in accordance with New Jersey law.
The wrongful death action is the portion of the lawsuit that can provide damages that are associated with the decedent’s death. These damages generally include the economic value of the loss of the decedent’s earnings and prospective earning capacity; the loss of care, support, advice, and guidance; the loss of companionship; the loss of inheritance; the lost value of household services and chores; medical expenses; and funeral and burial expenses. Under New Jersey law, mental anguish and grief are not recoverable.
What Should I Do if I Believe My Loved One Died Due to the Negligent or Careless Actions of Another Individual or Corporation?
If you think your loved one or relative died because of another’s negligent, careless or intentional action, it’s imperative that you consult with an experienced New Jersey wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. A skilled New Jersey wrongful death lawyer who has experience with this type of litigation can help you navigate the ins and outs of pursuing wrongful death cases in New Jersey, which can often be complicated, and they can assist you with recovering damages to the fullest extent possible.
In New Jersey, When Can a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Be Filed?
You might be able to pursue a wrongful death claim in New Jersey if you think the death of your loved one or relative was caused by a negligent or wrongful act by another individual or entity. A wrongful death claim can usually be brought if the decedent could have filed a personal injury claim if they had not passed away. Like with a personal injury claim, in order to recover damages, you must be able to establish that someone else’s negligent actions led to your loved one’s death. To prove negligence, you need to be able to prove four things:
- Did the other party owe the decedent a duty of care? In most instances, individuals have a duty to act reasonably to avoid causing foreseeable harm to others.
- Did the other party breach this duty of care?
- Did the other party’s careless or reckless action serve as the proximate cause of the decedent’s death? In other words, would the decedent not have died if not for the other party’s actions?
- Did the heirs or others entitled to recover damages under New Jersey law suffer any actual financial losses?
Are All State Laws Regarding Wrongful Death the Same?
No. Every state makes its own laws, including wrongful death laws, so when it comes to laws governing wrongful death lawsuits, they can differ significantly from state to state. That’s why it’s important to work with an experienced New Jersey wrongful death lawyer who understands all of the relevant statutes.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Action if I Have Lost a Loved One as a Consequence of Someone Else’s Negligent or Careless Actions?
Typically, a wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. However, the deadline for filing a claim under the state’s statutes of limitations can vary depending on the facts and circumstances of your particular case. You can lose your right to recover damages if you fail to file your lawsuit in a timely manner, which is why it’s so important to consult a lawyer right away. Call the experienced New Jersey wrongful death lawyers at Parker Waichman today and we’ll be able to accurately calculate the deadline for filing your claim to ensure that your rights are protected.
In New Jersey, Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit generally consists of two parts, and the party entitled to pursue each part may be different. A survival action is usually brought by the executor of the estate or the general administrator if the decedent did not have a will. The wrongful death portion of the claim may be brought by the executor of the estate if there is one, but if there is no will, an administrator “ad prosequendum” may be named to bring the claim. The executor, general administrator or administrator ad prosequendum are required to act on behalf of and to protect the interests of any heirs or those entitled to recover damages.
Who Is Typically Entitled to Recover Damages in a New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The individuals who might be entitled to recover damages from a survival claim are usually those who are named in the decedent’s will, and the damages recovered will be distributed according to the will. If there is no will, then any damages will be distributed as outlined under New Jersey law. In a wrongful death action, the individuals who can recover damages might include parents, spouses, children, grandparents, nieces, and nephews. However, who is actually entitled to recover damages will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case, including who is actually surviving at the time of the decedent’s death and who was dependent on the decedent. For instance, usually, a surviving spouse and children will recover first. However, if there is no surviving spouse or children, then the decedent’s parents will usually recover. If there aren’t any surviving parents, then the sisters, brothers, nephews or nieces may be entitled to recover damages.
If My Loved One Has a Will, Can it Affect the Distribution of Any Damages That Are Recovered in a Survivorship or Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In New Jersey, a will only controls how the recovery from the survival action is distributed. In a wrongful death action, any damages that are recovered are distributed directly to the heirs or beneficiaries. The decedent’s estate does not have any stake in the wrongful death portion of the lawsuit.
What Happens if My Loved One or Relative Died and They Did Not Have a Will?
If your loved one or relative dies without a will, someone, which could be you or another family member, is typically appointed to act as the general administrator and the administrator ad prosequendum to deal with matters involving the estate or to file a lawsuit on behalf the decedent’s heirs.
Are Damages for Emotional Distress Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, damages for the loss of emotional support are not recoverable. Under New Jersey law, individuals cannot recover damages for emotional distress that might be caused by the decedent’s death in a wrongful death suit. However, if there is emotional distress, a separate tort action for negligent infliction of emotional distress may be filed. Speaking with one of our New Jersey wrongful death attorneys can help you to decide if this the right option for you.
How Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Different Than a Criminal Case?
A wrongful death lawsuit is considered a civil claim; typically, the surviving family members will file the lawsuit for damages on behalf their loved one who passed away. However, if a person has been killed as a result of another’s negligent or reckless actions, the wrongful death may also be treated as a criminal homicide. These types of cases are investigated by law enforcement and the alleged offender may be prosecuted. If the offender is convicted, they can face a lengthy jail sentence and steep fines. It’s important to note that just because a wrongful death case is treated as a criminal homicide does not necessarily prevent the survivors from filing a civil lawsuit as well.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney to Take On My Loved One’s Wrongful Death Case?
Because wrongful death cases can be particularly complex, it’s always a good idea to consider consulting an experienced New Jersey wrongful death lawyer. A knowledgeable NJ wrongful death attorney will know the ins and outs of the process and can increase your chances of a successful outcome.
What if My Loved One or Family Member Died in a Workplace Accident? Will Workers’ Compensation Cover Damages, or Will I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Although workers’ compensation in New Jersey might cover some of the damages that surviving family members incurred in the aftermath of a wrongful death, it typically does not take care of everything. Usually, if a worker dies as a result of a job-related accident or incident, their surviving dependents might be eligible to receive death benefits including:
- Funeral expenses of up to $3,500
- Seventy percent of the decedent’s weekly wages up to a maximum benefit amount that is established by the Commissioner of Labor on an annual basis
- Additional benefits for children who are mentally or physically disabled
In New Jersey, dependents who might be eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits can include a surviving spouse and natural children who were a part of the decedent’s household when they passed away. Children are considered dependents up until the age of 23 if they are full-time students and up to the age of 18 if they are not attending school. Any spouse or child who was not a member of the household or any other family members, such as siblings, cousins, parents, and grandparents, must be able to establish that they were actually dependents of the decedent before they are deemed eligible to receive workers’ compensation death benefits.
Because workers’ compensation is not comprehensive, filing a wrongful death lawsuit may also be an option if you believe that your loved one died in a workplace accident as a result of the negligence of another individual or entity. If you believe this to be the case, speak with an experienced wrongful death lawyer in New Jersey to find out more about your legal options.
Let the Top Attorneys at Parker Waichman Fight for You
At Parker Waichman, our New Jersey wrongful death lawyers have extensive experience assisting families who have had to deal with the wrongful death of a loved one. Our compassionate lawyers understand the complexities of wrongful death lawsuits as well as the difficulties and stresses that face surviving family members. We’ve earned a reputation for skillful advocacy on behalf of our clients, including honors such as the highest possible peer-review rating from Martindale-Hubbell and a listing in Best Lawyers, but our greatest reward is the satisfaction of helping our clients to receive more than $2 billion and counting in settlements and jury awards.
When you decide that Parker Waichman is the right firm to handle your wrongful death case, you can rest assured that a skilled and dedicated lawyer will advocate tirelessly on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. Wrongful death lawsuits can be complicated, but our knowledgeable attorneys are well-equipped to handle your case and deliver results. If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent, reckless or careless actions of someone else, get a free consultation with an experienced New Jersey wrongful death lawyer today: Just call 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or fill out our contact form to learn what we can do for you.