In New Jersey, the value of a wrongful death claim is based on financial impact, and not on emotional loss.
Coping with the death of a loved one can be so stressful and emotionally draining. You may be experiencing overwhelming grief and at the same time anger about your loss. You may have to plan a funeral, settle your loved one’s personal and business responsibilities, and deal with suddenly intense financial needs as a result of your loss.
But you may be eligible to win financial compensation by means of a wrongful death claim. It depends on the cause of your loved one’s death, either by medical malpractice, an accident in the workplace, a deadly assault, or other circumstances.
What Is Wrongful Death in New Jersey?
“Wrongful death” is defined as the death of a person due to an act that should not have occurred (such as neglect), or an act that the person would have been compensated for had they survived. Common wrongful death cases include:
- Car accidents caused by a reckless driver or automobile defect
- Work accidents
- Accidents on someone else’s property
- Deaths caused by defective products
- Neglect of medical care or malpractice
- Criminal acts
- Nursing home abuse & neglect
Who Can Benefit?
A wrongful death claim can be made by the surviving dependents of the deceased person, according to N.J.S.A. 2A:31-4. These can include:
- A spouse and any children or grandchildren.
- Parents of a deceased person, typically if that person was unmarried with no children.
- Siblings, nieces, or nephews of the deceased person.
- Anyone who is able to prove that he or she was truly dependent on the deceased person.
First priority in paying out wrongful death cases is given to the surviving spouse and children, then to parents, and then to siblings, nieces, and nephews.
What Can I Seek Compensation For?
Commonly, people file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for:
- Loss of the finances provided by the deceased person. This is based on the amount of money that the deceased would have earned had he or she lived.
- Loss of household services, like childcare and chores.
- Loss of companionship, comfort, or care.
- The expense of medical care related to the injury, and funeral expenses related to death.
Please note that, in New Jersey, the value of a wrongful death claim is based on financial impact, and not on emotional loss. Surviving family members cannot recover from emotional distress or seek punitive damages in a wrongful death claim.
However, depending on the circumstances of your loved one’s death, you might be able to make a claim under the NJ Survival Statute. This allows the estate of the victim to pursue compensation for suffering and pain, as well as lost wages and medical expenses, that the victim experienced during the time of the accident to the untimely death.
Finally, keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations to file the claim. All wrongful death cases in New Jersey must be filed within at most two years of the date of death. Beyond that two-year time limit, the case will most likely not proceed.
Why would I go ahead with a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death case can provide the money you need to pay outstanding medical bills or funeral costs. It can help your family replace the income you’ve lost, and will continue to lose, as a result of the wrongful death.
The case might also benefit you by bringing the person responsible for the death to account. Often, a wrongful death lawsuit is the only way to do this.
These are important benefits, but there are also important potential costs to think about.
Potential Downsides of a Wrongful Death Case
During a wrongful death case:
- You may have to talk about the accident and about your loved one. This can be emotionally difficult.
- You may feel as if you are putting a price tag on your loss. However, you are not profiting financially from your loved one’s death.
If you choose to file a wrongful death claim, it is your attorney’s job to make the process go as smoothly as possible for you.
How do I file?
Most states require a wrongful death case to be filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased person, who brings the wrongful death case for the benefit of the deceased’s surviving spouse and children if there are any, or more distant relatives if not.
Why would I need a wrongful death lawyer?
A skilled attorney can help you gather evidence, prove your case, and recover damages in court or reach a fair settlement. In reaching a settlement, your lawyer knows how to leverage evidence and present convincing arguments to get the best settlement. Your attorney can also make sure that all of your rights are protected.
Contact Trenton NJ Lawyers Today
Coping with the loss of a loved one can be overwhelmingly stressful. You need an attorney who is not only compassionate but also able to leverage legal knowledge and experience to fight for your rights.
At The Law Office of Cohen & Riechelson, Our team’s skill, and dedication to your family, can make all the difference in securing compensation for the unwarranted loss of your loved one in Trenton, Princeton, Hamilton, and the greater Mercer County area.