In this article, Petro Cohen, P.C. addresses five frequently asked questions about wrongful death litigation in New Jersey.
What to Know if You Have Lost a Loved One in an Accident
What is a “Wrongful Death”?
Under New Jersey law, “wrongful death” refers to any situation where a person dies as a result of someone else’s negligent, improper act, or omission. You can think about it this way: If someone could file a personal injury claim for the same conduct if he or she were injured but lived, a wrongful death claim can be filed if the conduct results in death.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
The law requires generally that either an administrator or the executor of the deceased individual’s will to file the wrongful death claim. If the claim is successful, the awarded damages will be distributed to the decedent’s family members. It is important to note that even if the decedent has a will, the damages will be distributed according to the rules governing distribution of an estate without a will.
This is to be contrasted with a “survival action,” which is a lawsuit filed to recover damages for pain and suffering, medical bills, and other losses incurred prior to death. Financial compensation awarded in a survival action will generally be distributed according to the decedent’s will.
How Long Do I Have to Sue for Wrongful Death?
The standard statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date of death.
How Much Money Can I Hope to Recover?
The answer to this question depends on the unique facts and circumstances involved in your case. In general, the beneficiaries of wrongful death claims and survival actions can recover damages for
• Medical and funeral expenses
• The decedent’s pain, suffering, and emotional distress
• Lost wages
• Lost earning capacity
• Loss of companionship, care, guidance, and support
In certain cases, the law also allows for recovery of punitive damages.
What Should I do if I think a Family Member Suffered a Wrongful Death?
If you believe your loved one’s death may have been caused by someone else’s negligence or other misconduct, you should speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney right away. While the statute of limitations may be two years, the sooner you can get the legal process started, the better. People move, companies go under, and memories start to fade, so it is generally best to take action as soon as you are able, following your loved one’s passing.
For More Information, Contact Petro Cohen, P.C.
If you have questions about filing a wrongful death claim in New Jersey, the attorneys at Petro Cohen, P.C. can help. Contact the firm today to schedule your free consultation by calling or filling out our online contact form.