In New Jersey, wrongful death claims are filed on behalf of surviving family members of the decedent. Direct beneficiaries — or the executor or personal representative of the estate — may file the wrongful death claim in court. Wrongful death claims are filed in civil court in New Jersey, regardless of whether a related criminal case has also been filed.
Definition of “wrongful death” in New Jersey
In New Jersey, “wrongful death” is defined as a death that is “caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” This means that the circumstances causing the individual’s death would warrant a personal injury claim if the deceased had lived.
Damages in wrongful death claims
In wrongful death claims, liability is in the form of monetary damages. Only criminal cases bring penalties such as incarceration or probation. Any compensation that is awarded is distributed to those surviving family members who were dependent on the deceased at the time of their death, or those who inherit from the deceased according to inheritance laws in the state. This may include:
- Surviving spouse, children, or grandchildren
- Surviving parents
- Surviving siblings, nephews, or nieces
- Others who demonstrate dependency upon the deceased
For the most part, surviving spouses and children are awarded damages first. If neither exist, then surviving parents inherit, and if there are none, then siblings, nephews, or nieces may receive damages. Damages may include:
- Loss of earnings and financial support
- Loss of care, companionship, and guidance
- Loss of childcare
- Loss of household services such as cleaning and other chores
- Cost of medical care related to the decedent’s illness or injury
- Funeral and burial expenses
In New Jersey, damages are not awarded for emotional distress in wrongful death cases nor are there any punitive damages.
Wrongful death claims and time limits
New Jersey’s statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is two years from the date the death occurred. It is important to note this deadline. Wrongful death claims that are filed after the two-year period will not be heard by the New Jersey courts. Consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney if you are approaching the two-year time limit.
Considering a wrongful death lawsuit? Let our experienced New Jersey wrongful death attorneys help
Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience. Losing a loved one because someone else was negligent can make the grief all the more difficult. Let us help. At Lomurro Law, we understand you face a profound sense of loss, mixed with anger towards the individual or entity responsible for the death of a loved one. Our New Jersey wrongful death attorneys are compassionate, skilled, and dedicated to fighting on behalf of your loved one for maximum compensation for surviving family members. Contact our office today at 732-482-9285 or online to arrange for a confidential consultation to discuss your case.