Damages are comprised of economic damages that could be loss of wages, it could be repair of the vehicle, it could be loss of property, things that are equated to money. Pain and suffering is much different.
In New Jersey, jurors at any given trial are not offered anything as a guidepost. They are not given any comparisons; they are not given any guidance other than to be told to use their common sense. They don’t have the track record that the insurance companies and the attorneys have to know what cases with similar injuries settle for.
Attorneys use their experience and knowledge of injuries to negotiate the cases for settlement. Attorneys always ask for more than what to expect and the insurance companies always offer less and they try to meet at a reasonable figure, which is within the range.
Attorneys always try to do better. They do so by starting higher, not obscenely higher, but they start higher so they can always try to get their clients the most money possible. There is pain and suffering, there are economic losses. Death cases are another thing. In New Jersey, death cases are hard to understand because we do not permit a recovery for the loss of love that you had for your loved one. The Courts have created ways to get paid, but it is things that can be equated to money which determine the damages.
Wrongful death is by statute. That statute actually came from an early case known as Green vs. Bittner. This permits recovery for things that the dependents no longer have because their loved one is no longer there.
In New Jersey, the Courts do not permit a recovery for the loss of love of the person who died. That’s because we consider those things priceless. New Jersey does not consider it acceptable to allow for damages for loss of love, but they allow damages for things that can be calculated or equated to money.
For example, in the loss of a spouse, one of the ways they calculate damages is the time the person would have spent as companions with the loss of companionship. If a husband dies, the wife can seek damages for the loss of companionship. If the husband and wife used to spend roughly three hours each evening having dinner together and watching TV, until one of them fell asleep, they can use the figure “three hours.” Then, assuming that same three hours were lost seven days a week for 365 days a year, that would be 3 times 365, times the going rate for a companion. Obviously, the wife would not go and hire a companion to sit with her and watch TV but the court has established a way attorneys compute these things. In 2016, hiring a companion on the open market is going for approximately $18 an hour. So, 3 times 365 times 18 would arrive at the yearly loss of $19,710 companionship the wife has sustained for one year because her husband was taken from her.
The attorneys will then take into consideration the number of years, based on the life expectancy of the husband who has died. They will look at the life expectancy table and figure out what that figure is. Let’s say, the husband was expected to live another 25 years. So, the figure calculated earlier of $19,710, would be multiplied by 25 and then they would reduce it to a present value. That would be the wife’s loss of companionship when her husband dies in a trucking accident. If the wife’s life expectancy is less, you would be limited by that number.
Other things that the statute allows, is the loss of financial advice that the husband might offer to her as she might have to go and speak to another professional. The household chores that the husband used to take care of, like cleaning, taking out the garbage, clearing the snow, fixing things in the house, those all have economic value and are permitted.
Then there is the loss of the income that the husband provided to the household, minus anything the husband would have spent on himself. Essentially, wrongful death is the economic value of things that have been taken away from you as the dependent. These are your losses because your spouse was taken away.
When a lawsuit is filed following a death, there are two main counts. One is for survivorship benefits, one is for wrongful death. Wrongful death begins at the moment of death. Survivorship is from the moment the accident occurs to the time of death. The person may have endured pain and suffering and that is a separate cause of action for survivorship. The pain and suffering that the person endured maybe very short, perhaps just minutes, or numbered in days or years. It depends upon what injuries the person sustained in the accident and how long they may have lived prior to their death. The second cause of action is wrongful Death and that was discussed previously.
Get information on How Personal Injury Claims Are Made In Trucking Accidents And How Payouts Are Determined. To talk to an experienced personal injury attorney, call the law office of David Maran Esq. for a free initial consultation at (973) 622-5303 and get the information you’re seeking.