Wrongful Death Laws in New Jersey
New Jersey has a series of laws and regulations that strictly outline who may file a wrongful death lawsuit, how long they have to file a claim, and what type of compensation may be gained in a successful case.
A wrongful death lawsuit may only be filed on behalf of surviving family members who stand to inherit from the deceased family member’s estate under the state’s laws of inheritance. This can include a surviving spouse, children, parents, or brothers and sisters. Also, the person filing the lawsuit must show that they had a financial dependence on the victim. Typically, it would be a surviving spouse who files a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of themselves or themselves and their mutual children.
Once it has been established who can file a wrongful death claim, the individual must ensure that they are filing the claim within the proper time frame. New Jersey limits the amount of time a victim’s family has to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A suit must be filed within two years of the date of the victim’s death. If a case is filed after the statute of limitations expires it can be automatically dismissed and family members will have no other legal recourse for recovering compensation.
It is also important for family members to understand what type of compensation they may be eligible to receive from a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death lawsuits differ slightly from personal injury lawsuits in that the family members of the deceased are not entitled to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. Those who file a wrongful death suit in New Jersey may only recover economic damages, which may include:
- Loss of financial support
- Medical expenses related to treatment before death
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of services such as childcare, guidance, or chores
Family members are also unable to recover punitive damages in wrongful death cases. Punitive damages are damages that have nothing to do with compensating for the value of medical expenses or loss of financial support. These damages are to punish an individual for wrongdoing.
Wrongful death cases can be complex and complicated legal matters. It takes an experienced lawyer to navigate these types of lawsuits and gather the evidence needed to prove negligence was, in fact, at play. If you tragically lost a loved one after a serious accident, consider talking to a seasoned wrongful death attorney. You may be owed compensation that can help cover the cost of the funeral and medical expenses.
What is the Survival Statute?
New Jersey also has what is known as a “survival statute” or “survival action.” A survival action is not the same as a wrongful death suit. It is a suit filed on behalf of the victim’s estate, not on behalf of the surviving family members themselves. The action is brought by the administrator or executor of the victim’s estate. A survival action also differs from a wrongful death suit in that the executor can recover compensation for medical expenses, loss of income, and pain and suffering if the victim required hospitalization before death.
Since a survival action is filed by the estate on behalf of the victim, any compensation recovered would be directed to the victim’s estate. Since the compensation is distributed to the victim’s estate, that money along with the victim’s other assets may be subject to inheritance taxes and then could be distributed according to the victim’s will or estate plan.
Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Filing a lawsuit is not what most people think about when they are struggling to cope with the sudden loss of a close family member. At Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers, we understand that talking about a tragic event with anyone is difficult, let alone with an attorney. However, we do want you to understand that family members have rights, and you may be owed compensation. We know that money is not a replacement for a family member, but it may help ease the financial burden that can suddenly come your way with funeral costs and medical expenses due. It is also a valid way to hold a negligent party accountable for their actions.
If you have lost a loved one in a reckless or negligent accident, contact the legal team at Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers. We will review your case with compassion and treat you with dignity as we answer all your questions. You don’t have to go through this process alone, contact Brach Eichler Injury Lawyers today and let’s discuss your legal options. We know you are hurting. We want to help you seek compensation and some measure of closure. For a free consultation, reach us at (201) 583-5765.