Every state has its own set of laws that govern how to file wrongful death lawsuits. In New Jersey, wrongful death is defined as being any death that was caused by some sort of wrongful act or neglect. The conditions of that death must be that had the victim lived, he or she would have been able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party.
In this way, wrongful death lawsuits essentially work the same way as personal injury lawsuits do, but the plaintiff is a personal representative of the victim rather than the victim him/herself. The personal representative is usually the executor of the victim’s estate. However, the damages recovered in the course of the case are typically distributed among all surviving dependent family members.
People who might receive some of the compensation from a wrongful death case in New Jersey include:
- The surviving spouse and any children or grandchildren
- Surviving parents of a deceased person, typically if that person was unmarried with no children
- Surviving 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
The surviving spouse and children always receive first priority when handing out damages from wrongful death cases, followed by parents and then siblings, nieces and nephews.
The financial damages that can be handed down in a wrongful death case compensate the survivors of the deceased for:
- A loss of the financial support provided by the deceased person, based on the amount of money that the deceased would have reasonably earned had he or she lived
- Loss of companionship, comfort or care
- Loss of household services like childcare, chores and more
- Expenses related to medical care, funeral and burial related to the injury and death
Under New Jersey law, surviving family members cannot recover for emotional distress or seek punitive damages in a wrongful death claim.
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.
For more information about how to file a wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey, reach out to the attorneys at Gaylord Popp today.