NJ Wrongful Death Attorneys Pursue Compensation for Victims’ Families
Compassionate and capable representation for grieving families throughout the Garden State
The most tragic accidents are those that claim the life of an innocent person. But, when negligent or reckless behavior causes a totally unnecessary death, the situation cries out for justice. In New Jersey, a surviving family member, who was financially dependent on the victim, may sue for wrongful death. Additionally, a representative of the decedent’s estate may bring a survival action to recover the personal injury damages the victim would have been eligible to recover if the injuries had not led to death. At Brach Eichler, we fully understand that no amount of money can ever fill the void in your life caused by your loved one’s death. But, holding the wrongdoers in your case accountable can help you find closure, and the money recovered can alleviate any financial hardship the death of your loved one caused. Finally, a successful wrongful death action can have a deterrent effect, preventing similar tragedies in the future. We know that even contemplating such legal action is a highly emotional topic, so we invite you to take advantage of a free consultation to discuss your case with an experienced and compassionate attorney in the comfort and privacy of our office.
Rules for wrongful death lawsuits in New Jersey
New Jersey has a fairly restrictive statute for wrongful death actions. Parties with standing to bring an action are those who would inherit from the decedent under New Jersey’s laws of inheritance:
- The surviving spouse and children
- If no surviving spouse or children exist, then the victim’s surviving parents
- If no surviving parents exist, then the victim’s surviving brothers, sisters, nieces, or nephews.
However, relationship alone is not decisive. A would-be plaintiff must also prove financial dependence on the decedent.
Plaintiffs in a New Jersey wrongful death suit can only recover economic damages. These include:
- Lost income – The income the victim would have actually earned (including benefits) and contributed to the dependent survivors. A financial expert usually extrapolates earnings over the projected normal working lifetime of the decedent. Any award for lost income would deduct income taxes the victim would have paid and amounts spent on personal maintenance.
- Loss of services – Plaintiffs can recover the reasonable economic value of the services, assistance, guidance, and training the victim would have provided. Again, a financial expert would compile an estimate of the costs you would have to pay for someone else to provide the same services.
- Reasonable funeral and medical expenses – Plaintiffs can recover for actual amounts spent, as long as the expenses were not exorbitant.
Plaintiffs cannot recover for their pain and suffering or other emotional losses. However, if a plaintiff witnessed the death, a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress is possible. Punitive damages, sometimes added when the defendant’s behavior in causing the death was particularly egregious, are not available in a wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey.
The statute of limitations for most wrongful death actions in New Jersey is two years from the date of death. If you do not file a lawsuit within that time frame, you generally lose all rights to recover damages.
Filing a survival action in New Jersey
A survival action is a lawsuit that a representative of the decedent’s estate brings to recover personal injury damages the victim would have been entitled to if the injuries had not led to death. There is some overlap with the damages for wrongful death, such as recovery for lost income, medical bills, and funeral expenses, but there is one very important addition: compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering. For example, if the victim of a car crash was hospitalized, had several surgeries to save his life, and died three months after the crash, the victim would be able to recover compensation for three months of anguish. In contrast, a victim of a car crash who died at the scene might not be eligible for any pain and suffering recovery.
Damages for a survival action do not go to individual plaintiffs; the damages go to the estate and are dispensed to heirs according to the decedent’s will or estate plan. If the decedent had no will, the damages go into the estate and pass to the heirs according to New Jersey’s laws of intestacy.
The statute of limitations allows a decedent’s estate two years from the date of death to file a survival action.
Capable and compassionate representation in wrongful death and survival actions
When you are choosing an attorney to handle a wrongful death claim, there are two essential qualities to look for: the ability to capably manage your case and the sensitivity to work closely with you during your period of intense grief. At Brach Eichler, you get both. We are a preeminent injury law firm, having recovered more than $183 million in compensation for our clients. We are also highly empathetic and dedicated to the highest standards of client service from your first free consultation to the successful resolution of your case.
Contact an exemplary NJ law firm for your wrongful death claim
Brach Eichler Personal Injury provides highly professional and ethical representation for wrongful death claims throughout New Jersey. Let us help you obtain the full compensation you deserve for your tragic loss. Call us today at 973-364-8300 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.