What Are The Statute Of Limitations For Filing A Wrongful Death Claim?
The Statute of Limitations in New Jersey for filing a wrongful death claim is exactly two years, and no more. There is no ability to extend that. In other common law actions like medical negligence actions, if you were unaware that malpractice took place, the Discovery Rule would allow you two years from when you knew or should have known that malpractice may have occurred. The Discovery Rule does not apply when it comes to wrongful death claims.
Are All State Laws The Same Regarding The Wrongful Death Cases?
No, they are not. A good example would be that in Florida, you are permitted to recover for the loss of the love of the decedent. That is a game changer, because that claim is so large, and so difficult to assign a monetary figure. Other states are definitely different. New Jersey is in the majority of states that do not permit recovery for the loss of love.
Are Survivors Entitled To Recover Damages For Emotional Distress?
Yes and no. If that survivor or a close family member was right there and observed the accident occur, then they would be entitled to bring their own direct claim for emotional distress damages. This is based on the precedent setting case, Porte vs. Jaffe.
Porte vs. Jaffe, 84 N.J. 88 (1980), was the first case in the entire country which permitted a mother who observed her child crushed to death in an elevator to bring her own claim for the emotional distress that she suffered. Prior to that case, the law was not this way; the case was a precedent setting throughout the country.
Unless you were in close proximity to the accident, you would not be entitled to bring a claim for emotional distress damages because that’s essentially a claim for the loss of your loved one and the grief that follows from that; which is not permitted.
What If One Of The Survivors Or Loved Ones Who Is Entitled To Bring The Wrongful Death Case Does Not Want To Pursue The Claim, But The Others Want To?
Anyone who is eligible to be the Administrator of the Estate can bring the action. They must first be appointed by the Probate Court as the Administrator, and if others are unwilling to take that job on, then the Probate Court will grant the appropriate Letters of Administration to that other family member.
First, the Probate Court will ask to have the family member who had the first right to allow the other family member to be the Administrator. If that person doesn’t want to cooperate, the Probate Court can hold a hearing and invite everyone who is entitled to be the Administrator and make a determination based on that hearing as to who will represent the Estate.
There is always a way for someone in the family who has the ability to be the Administrator and spearhead that case. While the case is pending, the problem then becomes, if the person who did not want to bring the claim will cooperate and provide the necessary evidence to support the others who do want to make the claim for all of the losses. If they are unwilling to either provide that information or give testimony to support their position, then they probably would be denied their portion of the recovery.
If you need information about Laws in New Jersey 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.