The loss of a loved one is among the most traumatic things that a person can endure. That loss is especially difficult to accept when it happens suddenly, and is due to the fault of another. When a death is caused by the negligence of another, it is considered wrongful death and can be pursed with a legal claim. In New Jersey, the law regarding wrongful death litigation can be overwhelming. Potential claims can vary based on whether the deceased was a minor or an adult and who survived them. In such a difficult time, it is crucial to retain an experienced attorney to make sure that the rights of your loved one are honored.
If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s carelessness, you might wonder if you have any legal recourse. Fortunately, New Jersey law, like the law in many states, allows certain close relatives to recover damages brought on by the decedent’s death through a wrongful death lawsuit.
About Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is a civil lawsuit that has the purpose of compensating the decedent’s dependents for the financial harm brought on by the death. Although the wrongdoer may also face criminal charges for the death, the outcome of such charges is considered separately and does not have any effect on the right of recovery in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death can arise out of just about any situation where a person’s negligence or carelessness led to someone’s death-from Car Accidents to Medical Malpractice. In a recent example, a motorist, who was running from the police, struck another vehicle in North Brunswick, killing a 22-year-old father-to-be. Although the motorist is also facing Criminal Charges, a wrongful death lawsuit may also be concurrently filed to compensate the decedent’s spouse.
Who Has the Right to File?
New Jersey law specifies that a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be filed directly by the decedent’s family, but must be filed by the administrator of the decedent’s estate. Any damages recovered by the administrator in the lawsuit are distributed to the decedent’s spouse and children. In some cases, the parents of the decedent also have the right to recover damages.
Under New Jersey law, several types of damages may be recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit. For one, the administrator may recover the decedent’s past and future wages as well as any retirement benefits that would be due, had the decedent lived to collect them.
In addition to lost wages, the administrator may recover any medical bills incurred if the decedent required medical treatment because of the negligent act before he or she died. New Jersey law also allows the recovery of funeral expenses.
Finally, the administrator is also entitled to collect the value of the decedent’s services to his spouse, parents, or children. These damages can also include loss of parental guidance.
Unfortunately, the administrator’s ability to collect damages does have its limits. Under New Jersey law, damages for emotional loss are not collectible in wrongful death lawsuits. Because of this, damages such as pain and suffering, grief, and loss of companionship are not allowed.
An Attorney Can Help
If you have lost a loved one due to someone’s carelessness, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. A lawyer can fully evaluate your claim, and work to hold the responsible party accountable for his or her negligence.
This content was written on behalf of Greg Prosmushkin.