Wrongful death in New Jersey is based upon a statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:31-1-6, which permits a claim for the dependents of someone who is killed by the negligence of another to obtain monetary damages for their losses. This is the technical explanation. Most people understand that wrongful death is generally a financial recovery for the family of the person who has passed away.
There is, however, also a claim for survivorship as well and this is based upon a different statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:15-3. A survivorship claim is for the conscious pain and suffering that the person who passed away endured from the moment of the accident until the moment of death. So in reality, there are actually two claims more often than not.
The lawsuit is brought in the name of either the administrator or the executor of the estate of the person who passed away. They are responsible to bring the action, supervise the action and spearhead the action on behalf of all of the actual dependents of the deceased.
If there is a Will, then that representative of the dependents would be the named Executor. If there is no Will, then you must have an Administrator appointed by the probate court. That person would ordinarily be the closest family member; spouse, father, mother, child, or occasionally a sibling who is entitled to bring the action but only as the representative of the estate. The monies always flow to the actual dependents.
The first misconception people have regarding wrongful death suits is that, people are surprised that the State of New Jersey does not permit recovery for the loss of the love of your family member, which is actually the biggest devastation to the family. In New Jersey, you are simply are not allowed to obtain any money for that loss of love because it is considered priceless, and therefore not compensable. It is different in some other states, but New Jersey is in the majority on this position. That is the most common misconception.
Second to that, is how we are allowed to calculate what recovery is permitted in New Jersey and, it comes down to things that can be equated to money. For example the loss of companionship, the loss of guidance, and of course monetary losses from the income that the decedent brought into the household are the major arears which can be recovered for.
The biggest challenge people face is the loss of their loved one. In some situations it’s impossible to take away the anger and grief that a family holds against the person at fault. That is perhaps the biggest challenge that most people face.
An experienced attorney will listen to and guide clients when necessary, and get them counseling or care from a psychologist if need be. Death cases that involve young children are particularly challenging, as the children may need long term counseling to try to cope with the loss of their parent. The attorney will try and do their best but there is no way to take that kind of pain away.
If you need Answers to Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Wrongful Death Cases, call the office of David Maran Esq. for a FREE Initial Consultation at (973) 622-5303 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.