- Definition of Wrongful Death
- New Jersey Wrongful Death Act and Survival Statute
- Who Is Qualified To File A New Jersey Wrongful Death Case?
- Common Events Leading To A Wrongful Death
- What Does a New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawyer Do?
- Seek Legal Assistance for Managing Estate Issues
- Get Any Necessary Help for You and Your Loved Ones
- Avoid Talking to The Insurance Company Covering The Accident
- Avoid Detailed Social Media Posts About the Accident
- Avoid Detailed Social Media Posts about Legal Actions
- Avoid Threatening or Angry Social Media Posts
- Be Mindful of the Statute of Limitations
- What Are The Four Elements Of A Wrongful Death Case?
As a compassionate New Jersey wrongful death attorney, I understand that legal action is not the first concern of families when they have lost a loved one. The grief being experienced by their loss is often overwhelming and all-consuming. It is understandable that all you want to focus on is recovering from this emotional trauma.
Sadly, families who face the loss of a loved one not only experience emotional trauma, they also face financial uncertainty and difficulties in the future. The loss of the financial support provided by the deceased loved one can have a cascading effect on the family finances. This is how a wrongful death lawsuit can help.
Filing a wrongful death lawsuit will help prevent many of these financial burdens. Qualified family members can seek compensation for their financial losses and protect their family financially while they recover from their loss. It is only right that the responsible party is held accountable for their actions.
SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION. If you have lost your loved one to the negligent actions of another person or business, you may have the right to seek certain types of compensation. You are encouraged to speak to one of our compassionate attorneys in a NO OBLIGATION meeting about your right to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Definition of Wrongful Death
Wrongful death is defined as an untimely death or unexpected death that was caused by the negligent actions of another person, business or event. The simple way to determine if a wrongful death occurred is to determine if the deceased would have been able to pursue a personal injury case against the person or entity that caused the injuries had they survived. If the answer is yes, the qualified surviving family members can seek a wrongful death lawsuit.
The major difference between a personal injury lawsuit and a wrongful death lawsuit is who is filing the claim. In a wrongful death lawsuit, the estate of the deceased is seeking damages on their behalf while in a personal injury lawsuit it is the person themselves filing the case.
The second difference is the claim for emotional pain and suffering. Wrongful death claims themselves do not allow for the pain and suffering of the victim. However, the estate may make a claim for this under new Jersey’s Survival Statute. Pain and suffering are only awarded to surviving family member under the rare circumstance that they were witness to the accident and saw the death of their loved one.
New Jersey Wrongful Death Act and Survival Statute
New Jersey has two specific laws that concern wrongful death. The Wrongful Death Act and the Survivor Statute. Each of these las plays a significant role in a wrongful death case. Compensation under each law is distributed differently. Speak with your New Jersey wrongful death attorney to get a full understanding of how these laws will affect your case.
Wrongful Death Act
The Wrongful Death Act is the law governing compensation for the financial losses suffered by the qualified surviving family members as a result of the loss of their loved one. Under this Act, the estate can sue for the following compensation:
- Cost of medical care immediately prior to the death
- Cost of funeral expenses
- Loss of financial support
- Loss of provided services
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship for dependent children
- Additional financial losses from accident
The cost of medical care would be any medical care, including life-saving techniques that were used to try to prevent death from happening. Since a wrongful death does not have to be an immediate event, any medical care that was given after the accident and prior to the death is covered under this portion of the compensation.
The cost of funeral expenses. This portion of the compensation is set aside exclusively for the family member that paid this final expense.
Loss of financial support is a complex calculation that determines the amount of money that a person would have earned from the accident point forward if they had lived to their full life expectancy. This will also account for average hours worked each week, rate of pay, the potential for advancement, age of the decedent vs. age until retirement, employer-provided benefits like retirement contributions and profit sharing.
Loss of services refers to the “services” that the deceased did around the home that the surviving family members now have to pay to complete. This may include home cleaning, home repairs, lawn maintenance, vehicle maintenance, child care, elder care, or any similar duties that were part of the responsibilities of the deceased.
Loss of consortium is the legal name placed on the relationship of the married couple. A wrongful death interrupts and diminishes this relationship, and the remaining spouse suffers a loss of companionship and intimacy. Dependent children are also allowed to seek compensation for loss of companionship that they had with their parent.
Your New Jersey wrongful death lawyer may also seek damages for any personal properties that were damaged during the accident that led to the death of your loved one. This will vary on a case-to-case basis.
Any awards given under this Act will not be considered a part of the Estate and will only be distributed t qualifying family members. It does not matter what is stated in the last will for disbursement of assets. Wrongful Death Act compensation packages are only distributed to qualified family members.
The Survival Statute grants a right to the Estate that is not given under the Wrongful Death Act. Under this statute, the Estate can sue for pain and suffering the decedent endured from the accident and prior to their untimely death. This is the only form of compensation that is granted under this law.
Any awards granted under the Survival Statute are placed into the Estate. This means that the proceeds from this compensation are divided up according to the wishes of the Will. If there was no Will in place, this compensation is divided among all surviving family members based off of New Jersey intestate laws.
Who Is Qualified To File A New Jersey Wrongful Death Case?
New Jersey law grants the following family members the right to seek compensation under a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Surviving Spouse
- Dependent Children
- Parents of the deceased if they were a minor
- Dependent family members – under certain conditions
Under the laws of the state, only dependent family members can seek compensation for their losses in a wrongful death case. The surviving spouse of the deceased must hold a marriage license or a civil union certificate to qualify for compensation. Live-in arrangements or long-term relationships do not qualify for this benefit.
If the injured party dies without any dependent children or a spouse, the estate still has the right to seek compensation under New Jersey law. Once the case is settled, the recovery received will be distributed to the heirs of the estate per New Jersey intestate guidelines.
Common Events Leading To A Wrongful Death
A wrongful death can occur from any type of accident or negligent event. The death does not have to be instant at the scene, it can occur at a later time if the death is a direct result of the injuries received. Wrongful deaths are very common in the following types of events or accidents:
- Car Accidents
- Pedestrian / Bicycle Accidents
- Trucking / Commercial Vehicle Accidents
- Workplace Accidents
- Premises Liability Events
- Construction Accidents
- Mining Accidents or Collapse
- Birth Injuries – Including those to the Mother
- Medical Malpractice
- Dangerous Medications or Medical Devices
- Toxic Exposure
- Airplane Accidents
- Maritime Accidents
Again, wrongful death can take place at any time a person or business acts n a negligent manner that results in the death of another person if you have lost your loved one to the negligence of another person CALL FOR A FREE CASE EVALUATION.
What Does a New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawyer Do?
It is very understandable that when you have lost a loved one to an accident that you are in an overly-emotional state. That is only natural and to be expected. No one plans for an untimely death in their family, and no one really knows how you will react to such a situation until it happens.
Since emotions can run very high during this period, ranging from being distraught to being outraged and angry, it is important that you keep the following information in mind. These tips will protect your rights as a victim, protect the estate and assets, and protect yourself and your loved ones emotionally.
Seek Legal Assistance for Managing Estate Issues
When you face the sudden loss of a loved one, everything can quickly become overwhelming. There is so much to deal with concerning the estate, and most people simply want to deal with their own emotional pain during this time. It is always recommended that you seek the appropriate legal assistance to handle estate issues. This will prevent many mistakes that can be easily made.
Having an attorney manage the estate can also give you and your family the extra time you need to begin the healing process.
Get Any Necessary Help for You and Your Loved Ones
An unexpected loss of a loved one can cause extensive grief and emotional distress, especially to smaller children. Make sure that if you or your loved ones need help getting through this period that you seek emotional support. There are many different places that offer grief counseling including local churches and charities. It is important that you find a way to cope with this loss so that you can begin the healing process.
Avoid Talking to The Insurance Company Covering The Accident
It is not unusual for the insurance company covering the accident that led to the death to contact the grieving family to “interview” them. What they are trying to do is gain useful information for their cause. That cause being, of course, to not pay out any compensation.
If you are contacted by an insurance company for an interview of any kind, written or oral, simply decline the interview until a later time. You can provide basic information if you like, names and birthdates and addresses, but nothing more, especially about the accident.
Tell the insurer that you will speak to them once you have consulted an attorney.
Avoid Detailed Social Media Posts About the Accident
Insurance companies have dedicated teams monitoring social media activity of anyone who is making a claim against them. These staff members will even put in friend requests so that they can engage in conversation with you. It is in your best interest to not post anything detailed about the accident, injuries, death or losses you have incurred and avoided friend requests until your case is settled.
Avoid Detailed Social Media Posts about Legal Actions
Under the same guidelines, you will also want to avoid putting anything detailed about the legal actions you are taking through the estate or actions you have filed for wrongful death. All information that is put on social media is open to the public and can be used against you by the insurer. Predators also monitor keywords like estate, lawsuit and similar words so that they can obtain information about you.
Avoid Threatening or Angry Social Media Posts
Anger is a common response to the loss of a loved one. However, since social media is open for all to see, you need to refrain from writing anything mean, threatening, derogatory, or can otherwise be interpreted as angry towards the responsible party.
Even if you are not talking directly to that party. Insurance companies monitor your social media to establish your personality as much as try to find reasons to deny your claim. If they find that you are threatening, they will attempt to deny your claims based on it being a “revenge” claim. Although that will not ultimately hold up, it can cause several delays and increase the costs associated with your case.
Be Mindful of the Statute of Limitations
The Statute of Limitations is a set of laws that limit the time a legal action can be brought before the court system for review or trial. These statutes apply to both civil and criminal cases. The Statutes of Limitations protect the rights of all parties by limiting the time between an actual event and when a case is filed.
Over time people forget details, the evidence is lost or has been changed (such as a repair being made to a premises) people move, forget or pass away that were witnesses to the events, and memories of actual details become blurry. To make sure that everyone has received a fair trial, the courts use the Statutes of Limitations. For wrongful death actions, the estate has two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.
What Are The Four Elements Of A Wrongful Death Case?
Just like a personal injury case, there are four elements that must be met for a wrongful case to be considered valid by the court system. Rosengard Law Group will make sure that each of these elements is met and have strong supporting evidence so that your case can proceed easily through the legal process.
A Negligent Action Happens
Your attorney must be able to show that the person you are filing a lawsuit against acted “out of the norm” or negligent. This means that they must show that the actions taken by that person or business were not the actions that would be taken by an average member of society.
For example, if the death was caused by someone speeding through a red light. The attorney would show that the average person would see that the light was yellow and would soon be red so they should begin breaking and stop for the red light.
However, the person in question saw the light was about to change to red and intentionally sped up to go through the red light and therefore causing the accident.
The Negligent Action Caused The Death
The next step your attorney must do is show that the injuries received in the event were the direct cause of the death. For car accident cases this is usually quite simple once fault for the accident has been established. For wrongful deaths that occur in different manners, your attorney may have to work a little harder to build a solid case.
But that’s okay. Your New Jersey wrongful death lawyer has access to medical professionals, experts from many different fields, and first-hand knowledge of these types of cases. They can use all of these resources to build a case with evidence to show that the event caused the death of your loved one.
The Death Must Have Directly Impacted You And Your Family
This is very easy to show. The loss of your loved one will have a direct and lasting impact on you and your immediate family members.
The Death Must Have Caused Financial Hardships For The Family
Your attorney must be able to show how the death of your loved one caused financial hardship to your family. This will include things like the loss of their income and support, loss of benefits, loss of services, and even the costs associated with life-saving medical care and burial.
Contact A New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawyer
Protect the rights of the estate to seek compensation and speak with an attorney as soon as possible after you have lost your loved one. While legal actions are probably not the most important thing on your mind at this time, they are necessary for your overall protection.
Legal issues surrounding the estate, insurance companies covering the accident, and other issues can quickly become complicated without the assistance of an attorney,
Call for a FREE CONSULTATION. We can even come directly to you. We understand that this is a very trying time and we want to make the legal process as convenient and compassionate as possible.