Different Categories of Damages in a New Jersey Wrongful Death Case
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How Does New Jersey Define Wrongful Death?
New Jersey defines a wrongful death as a death "caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another." A NJ wrongful death claim is similar to a personal injury claim, the difference being that the person injured isn't able to bring their own claim to court. Instead, wrongful death claims are started by someone who was close to the person who died.
In New Jersey, a wrongful death lawsuit claims that someone died because of the negligent, wrong and/or intentional acts of another. Wrongful death lawsuits have two parts:
- Survival Action pays for damages like pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages the victim suffered from the time of their injury until their death
- Wrongful Death Action allows for the victim's heirs to get financial compensation for their losses (usually loss of companionship, security and future wages)
Most common wrongful death cases are connected to motor vehicle and pedestrian accidents, work and construction sites, medical procedures and the use of defective products. It's important that a wrongful death victim's family hires a personal injury and wrongful death lawyer. You'll need a lawyer who not only can handle wrongful death cases, but is also experienced in the type of injury that led to the death (vehicle accident, slip-and-fall, defective drug, etc.). Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. can help.
Who Brings a New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death claims are brought by the victim's estate or heirs. Usually, this means their spouse or children who received benefits from the victim while they were still alive. To bring a wrongful death claim, family members have to prove that they've suffered (and will continue to suffer) financially because of the death.
What Damages Are You Entitled To?
Under the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act, surviving family members are eligible to get money for losses suffered because of their loved one's death.
Wrongful death cases often award victim's families damages for medical expenses and funeral costs. New Jersey family members who were financially dependent on the deceased can get financial compensation for losses including:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills
- Loss of future financial support
- Loss of future emotional support
Damages That Aren't Covered
- The victim's pain and suffering
- Their own emotional distress, unless they witnessed their loved one's dying
- Loss of the victim's companionship
In the case of a wrongful death of a child where there are no financial dependents, the court will estimate financial losses based on the child's age, work expectancy and earning potential. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help figuring out what damages you may be entitled to.
What is a Survival Action in NJ?
In addition to the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act, there is also a "Survivor's Act" that allows the victim's family to get damages for the victim's pain and suffering before death. This means that if your loved one survived for a while after an accident, their family can sue for financial compensation for the victim before they died, including medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.
Unlike a wrongful death suit, a survival action deals with the pain and suffering of the victim, rather than the pain and suffering of their surviving family members. For example:
A construction worker is badly injured in a building collapse. He suffered many injuries, emotional pain and lost out on months of wages. He was going to file a personal injury claim against his employer, but died before he could. A survival action makes it so his family can collect damages for the construction worker's pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages that happened after the accident and before he died.
The difference between a survival action and a wrongful death claim is that in a survival action, the financial reward is paid to the victim's estate, not directly to their heirs. In this case, the money is then distributed according to the victim's will (or according to state law, if there's no will).
Speak with a Compassionate New Jersey Wrongful Death Damages Lawyer
Wrongful death cases can be long and complex. You'll need legal support on your side. If you believe that you have a wrongful death claim because of the loss of your loved one, contact an attorney today. The knowledgeable lawyers at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. can help. Contact us today at (609) 240-0040 to discuss your case.
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