What is Required in a New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In New Jersey, wrongful death lawsuits may be filed when the negligence of a third party causes a victim’s death. Wrongful death claims may be appropriate in motor vehicle accident claims, medical malpractice claims, or in civil claims that stem from a criminal act, such as an assault. Essentially, if the victim had survived and would have been able to pursue a personal injury claim under New Jersey law, that victim’s surviving loved ones are able to file a wrongful death claim.
Generally, the personal representative or executor in charge of the victim’s estate is the person that files a wrongful death lawsuit. If the wrongful death lawsuit is successful, surviving family members and/or those who would inherit from the victim according to New Jersey inheritance rules may be entitled to damages.
There are several elements that must be proven in a wrongful death claim. These are:
- The at-fault party owed a duty to the victim;
- This duty was breached by a negligent act or omission;
- This negligence was the direct cause of the victim’s death; and
- The victim’s surviving loved ones suffered damages.
The duty varies depending on the claim. For example, if the victim died in a motor vehicle accident, the at-fault party had a duty to drive in a way that was safe and reasonable under the circumstances.
The breach of the duty also depends on the specific case. In the motor vehicle accident example, a breach could be texting while driving, running a red light, or speeding.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs must also show that the breach of the duty was the cause of death. Again, with the motor vehicle example, showing that a driver was texting before he veered into the opposite lane and hit another car would certainly link the driver’s negligence to the victim’s death.
Damages are awarded to compensate surviving family members for their loss. In a wrongful death lawsuit, damages may include:
- Medical bills
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of benefits
- An estimated value of the victim’s future earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium and/or companionship
Other damages may also be available, depending on the facts of the case.
Time is limited to file a wrongful death claim in New Jersey. Generally, claimants have two years from the date of death to pursue a wrongful death action. If claimants miss this deadline, they may never be able to file a lawsuit to seek compensation.
If a loved one has died in some type of accident, it is best to consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to learn what options are available. Wrongful death lawsuit attorneys help claimants maximize their compensation and seek justice for the death of their loved ones.
Call Leonard Legal Group today to discuss a New Jersey wrongful death claim
If your loved one has been killed due to the negligence of someone else, contact the compassionate New Jersey accident personal injury lawyers at Leonard Legal Group for legal guidance you can trust. Our New Jersey wrongful death attorneys have recovered compensation for families who have lost loved ones. To schedule your free consultation and learn about your legal options, call 973-984-1414 or contact us online.