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United States of America > New Jersey > Litigation Personal Injury > Wrongful Death > Article > Things You Need to Know About the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act

Article: Things You Need to Know About the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act

When an earning member of a family dies, it can cause great financial hardships. When the death is untimely, and caused by someone else's fault or negligence, the surviving family members can recover the financial losses linked to the deceased’s earnings, according to the charges under the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act . However, the loss of a loved one takes a toll on family members that goes much beyond financial suffering. Taking this into account, the 214th Legislature introduced in 2010 for the State of New Jersey expanded the Wrongful Death Act to include recovery related to emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of companionship and loss to society.

What is Covered Under the Act?

While pursuing a claim for wrongful death, the family members can recover damages related to medical and hospital expenses, disability or impairment, loss of earnings, loss of enjoyment, funeral expenses and suffering and pain between the time of injury and death.

Some of the most common situations that result in wrongful death cases:

  • Road Accidents
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Workplace accidents
  • Medication Errors
  • Defective products

Knowing the Act is Important

The laws of a state define what falls under "wrongful death", who can file the case and the time limit within which it can be filed. For instance, in New Jersey, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of demise. There are several other aspects to consider and knowing the law becomes essential. An attorney who specializes in wrongful death cases in New Jersey would be able to assist with understanding the different aspects of the law and the various categories of compensation.

In New Jersey, wrongful death is a civil case, even if there is an associated criminal case filed. A lawsuit against the individual or entity held responsible of the grave injury can be filed only by beneficiaries. Understanding wrongful death can be a little tricky because it is not murder or manslaughter, which is intentional, neither is it a true accident, which is nobody's fault. Wrongful death is a civil liability, wherein a person may be found responsible because he could have prevented the fatal injury by acting more responsibly.

Pain and Suffering of the Deceased

Before the demise, an individual may have gone through days or weeks of pain and suffering. If carefully documented and proved, the family members may be awarded compensation for these hardships as well.

Understanding Economic Damages

Financial loss can go beyond the immediate loss of income that the deceased person was earning at the time of the injury. It includes the loss of income that the deceased person would have earned until his/her anticipated retirement.

Loss of Services

A wrongful death case may include the loss of benefits that the survivors received from the deceased. The law says that services can include chores such as babysitting and household work. Also, it might be case specific and not common to all wrongful death cases, and will have to be proved depending on the relationship of the deceased to the plaintiff, such as in the case of Green vs Bittner, 85 NJ (1980).

Guidance and Advice by the Deceased

Compensation may include the loss of advice, counsel and guidance by the deceased to the surviving family members. This, however, must be specific to a particular purpose or decision, such as a business decision. It can also be related to the guidance that a parent may offer children.

Other Compensation

A spouse may be awarded compensation for lost companionship resulting from the partner's death. The spouse can also file a claim for his/her emotional trauma arising from losing the partner. Children, usually minors, may also be awarded damages for the lost comfort, support and other benefits of their relationship with the deceased parent.

In case the diseased person has a will, the distribution of the damages would take that into consideration. If, however, a person dies intestate, there are laws in New Jersey defining who is eligible to receive the damages and in what proportion or amount.

Last Update: 2015-May-01 Gerald Clark - Clark Law Firm, PC
The contents of this page do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney- client relationship with the contributor. Do not apply anything you read here without contacting a professional.
Author: Gerald Clark
Law Firm: Clark Law Firm, PC
Address: 811 Sixteenth Avenue
New Jersey
United States of America
Telephone: 1-877-841-8855
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