Essex County Wrongful Death Lawyer
A wrongful death is one that was caused by “neglect, a wrongful act or default of another.” Under New Jersey law, when a wrongful death occurs, the estate of the decedent may bring a legal action against the tortfeasors whose acts and omissions caused the death. These laws are codified at the New Jersey Survival Act, N.J.S.A. § 2A:31-1 and the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act, N.J.S.A § 2A:31-4. Under these laws, the estate of the decedent may pursue compensation for various economic and non-economic damages caused by the untimely death of their family member.
New Jersey Survival Act
Claims under this statute seek compensation for the conscious pain and suffering, and fear of impending death, experienced by the decedent during the time following an accident, but prior to death. Thus, if the death is sudden and occurs instantaneously after an accident, the amount of conscious pain and suffering experienced would arguably be less than if the decedent had survived for minutes, hours, days or even months following a catastrophic accident. This is a highly fact sensitive analysis and the appropriate quantum of compensation will differ in every case.
New Jersey Wrongful Death Act
Whereas claims under the Survival Act are concerned with conscious pain and suffering experienced by the decedent, claims under the Wrongful Death Act are solely focused on the economic damages sustained by the decedent’s dependents as a result of the untimely death. Allowable damages in wrongful death claims include:
- Loss of current and future monetary support
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of assistance and care
- Loss of parental guidance
- Loss of household services
- Medical bills
- Funeral expenses
Under these claims, any awards are intended solely for the benefit of the victim’s heirs, and are not subject to estate creditors.
NJ Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A claim for wrongful death must be brought within 2 years of the date of death, while a survival claim must be brought within 2 years of the date of the accident. Generally, both of these claims are properly brought within one single lawsuit. An experienced wrongful death attorney can assist by identifying the proper representative of the estate, filing the case initiating papers with the court, and building a case to substantiate the legal claims asserted. If you have any questions regarding a possible wrongful death lawsuit, call today to speak with a New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawyer.