Life is not fair. Sometimes things happen that we have no control over and that causes us to experience painful loss. When a family member loses their life because of another’s actions, it may create feelings of helplessness for surviving family members. Nothing can be done to change what has happened but the law provides that those who must survive the loss of a loved one are entitled to financial compensation from the wrongdoer.
In New Jersey, certain family members of a wrongful death victim are entitled to collect money to pay the final expenses of their loved one and compensate them for the lost contributions that person could have made to their family in the future.
At Deutchman & Drews, LLC we understand that it is devastating to lose a beloved family member and no amount of money can make up for the tremendous loss that has been suffered. Our compassionate wrongful death attorneys are committed to doing all we can to help our clients through this most difficult time and ease the financial burden on surviving family members.
When Does Wrongful Death Occur?
Under New Jersey law, when a person’s death is caused by the wrongful act of another, the wrongdoer is liable to pay damages to the decedent’s survivors for wrongful death.
Wrongful death can occur under any number of circumstances. Frequent ways that wrongful death claims arise include:
- motor vehicle accidents
- medical treatment or procedures
- work-related accidents
- criminal activity
- defective products or equipment
- toxic substance exposure
- dangerous conditions on the property of another
2 Distinct Causes of Action from One Wrongful Death
Not all victims of wrongful death die immediately. Sometimes there is a period of time between the actions that caused the injury and when death occurs. During that period of time, the decedent may incur medical bills, be unable to work, and may experience pain and suffering. New Jersey law creates a separate cause of action for the personal injuries experienced by the victim and that cause of action survives his or her death.
- Survival Actions – Survival actions are based on the personal injury claim a decedent would have had for economic loss and pain and suffering if he or she had lived. Any damages that are recovered become a part of the decedent’s estate and are distributed by will or state inheritance laws.
- Wrongful Death Actions – Wrongful death actions are based on the losses suffered by those who survive the decedent – particularly those who were financially dependent upon the decedent. Compensation by-passes the decedent’s estate and is distributed according to state inheritance laws. The court has the discretion to apportion the proceeds between a surviving spouse and children or other dependents in any way deemed to achieve a fair and equitable result.
Who May Recover For Wrongful Death?
The proceeds recovered in a wrongful death claim will go first to the surviving spouse and children of the decedent. If the decedent had no spouse or children, the proceeds go to more distant family members according to state law.
Who Must Bring a Wrongful Death Claim
Although a surviving spouse and children are the primary beneficiaries, they may not be the ones who have the legal authority to bring the wrongful death claim.
If the decedent had a will, the executor named in the will is normally the person with authority to make a wrongful death claim. If the decedent died without a will, a court will appoint a representative to bring the claim.
In most circumstances, the executor or other representative has 2 years from the date of the decedent’s death to file a wrongful death action.
Wrongful Death Losses That Can be Compensated
In addition to the final expenses of the decedent, those surviving the wrongful death are allowed to collect for the expected earnings that the decedent could have generated over a lifetime and the value of services or benefits that the decedent could have provided. In other words, only money losses can be recovered.
- medical and funeral expenses
- loss of financial support
- loss of personal contribution – household services, companionship, advice/guidance
The Help You Need to Recover from Wrongful Death
We have worked with clients who have suffered the loss of a family member and we understand that you have been through a lot. And right now you really can’t imagine much of a future. That’s why we’re here. There is going to be a future and we are going to make sure that you at least have the financial resources to make it the best it can be.
The law in New Jersey gives you only 2 years after the death of your loved one (with a few exceptions) to bring a claim against the responsible party for wrongful death.
The wrongful death attorneys at Deutchman & Drews, LLC get to know your family and understand how this tragedy has impacted you. Then we go to work for you as certified civil trial attorneys* with decades of litigation experience. Our mission is to do the best job for you and help you move toward the rest of your life.
You can reach out to us here or by calling 732-828-1300.
*Certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as Certified Civil Trial Attorneys.