Damages Available for Wrongful Death in New Jersey
Wrongful death is a legal term referring to instances in which someone dies due to another’s negligence. For example, if a driver makes an illegal turn causing a fatal accident, the deceased’s family may have a legal cause to sue the responsible driver for wrongful death. Similarly, if a physician negligently prescribes a medication that someone is allergic to according to their medical chart, the person’s family may have a reason to sue the doctor for wrongful death if he or she dies from complications such as anaphylaxis. Other unlawful acts may also be the source of a wrongful death action. For example, when an individual sets off illegal fireworks in a neighborhood that causes a house fire and fatality, a wrongful death lawsuit may be appropriate for the family to receive monetary compensation due to the death.
Although things will never be the same without the companionship and support of your loved one, by getting compensation not only will you be able to ease the financial burden it takes to cover funeral expenses, medical bills, and other losses, but also take solace in the responsible parties being forced to be accountable. Building a wrongful death claim requires extensive preparation to gather all necessary documents and evidence. You need experienced lawyers investing time in your case. That is why we invite you to contact the attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group. You can trust our dedicated team to work tirelessly on your case and prepare your claim to obtain the highest possible economic and non-economic compensation.
Call 973-435-4551 for a free legal consultation and review of the compensation that you may be able to recover for a loved one’s wrongful death.
Proving Negligence to Recover Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If the plaintiff can prove the defendant’s negligence or unlawful acts caused the death of their loved one, they can be awarded damages. They only need to verify the defendant’s fault by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning a 51% likelihood that the defendant caused the death. In addition, the plaintiff must have standing to sue, meaning they are allowed to sue the responsible party if they are the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate or executor of the deceased person’s will and they are suing on behalf of a spouse, child, or immediate family member.
Monetary compensation is all a plaintiff can get in a wrongful death civil lawsuit. Whereas the illegal act that caused the death may also be a crime punishable by a prison sentence and fines, the plaintiff in a civil case may only seek money, not criminal justice. However, a court may award punitive damages to punish wrongful acts that reach an extreme level of maliciousness or gross recklessness.
What May be Considered in Wrongful Death Compensation Awards
The people in a familial, psychological, and financial relationship with the deceased stand to lose so much from the death of their loved one. For example, spouses lose the physical, emotional, and economic relationship they may have depended on for safety, love, security, and support. Likewise, children of the deceased lose guidance in addition to safety, love, security, and support. And a parent who loses a minor child due to another’s negligence or wrongdoing suffers the loss of a child, for which words truly have no accurate expression.
In addition, all family members, whether parents, children, or spouses, suffer devastation when they lose their loved ones. Some of the effects, such as loss of consortium, loss of guidance, mental anguish, and other costs associated with the loss of a loved one, may be eligible for compensation to repair those effects.
Types of Wrongful Death Damages
Once the plaintiff files the lawsuit within the statutory time limit of two years, the case either settles by the defendant’s payment of an agreed amount or goes to trial. If successful at trial, a jury awards damages. A jury may award damages for lost wages, medical bills, and funeral expenses, as well as loss of value of the services the lost loved one provided to the functioning of the household. These are costs the survivors bear for the wrongful death of their loved one and, thus, are entitled to compensation.
Wrongful Death Damages may include the medical costs of keeping the victim alive while fighting for their life after someone else’s negligence caused them grave injuries. It may also comprise all medical treatment, including surgeries, medications, oxygen, and procedures during the hospital stay, and days, weeks, or months of treatment associated with the wrongful death accident or incident.
Loss of Wages and Income
In addition, the spouse, children, or parents may receive a damages award for the financial support they lost at their loved one’s end. If the deceased was a part of the workforce with a salary or income, the lost salary for the time they were and are now unable to work is also included in a damages claim. Thus, the person’s salary paying for the mortgage and private school for the kids, which the family lost with his death, might measure the damages for the future. If the deceased was 30 years old and reasonably had another 35 years of work, their annual salary over 35 years may be one portion of the damages.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
Damages also include expenses associated with laying the person to rest, such as funeral costs and the costs of burial or cremation. Any lingering hospital or medical bills for treating and preparing the deceased for funeral services, as well as the cost of funeral services are included.
Compensation for Loss of Consortium
As for the family members, a spouse may claim loss of consortium in a wrongful death lawsuit. New Jersey allows a spouse to obtain compensatory damages for the loss of comfort, companionship, and relations that marital partners share. However, the spouses must have been cohabitating and not separated at the time of the death.
Value of Services Provided
Another may be the value of services they performed around the house, like mowing the lawn, moving furniture, fixing computer technological problems, and the like. The value of those services and the care, advice, and guidance a lost companion is worth may figure into the damages calculation.
Who can be Beneficiaries of Wrongful Death Compensation?
Those legally entitled to damages are surviving spouses (if not separated), children, and grandchildren. If the deceased had no spouse or children, surviving parents might be beneficiaries of the lawsuit. If the deceased left no spouse, children, or parents, the beneficiaries are siblings or children of siblings.
Only minor children are awarded damages for their parents’ wrongful death, and only parents of minor children who died wrongfully may be beneficiaries of a wrongful death lawsuit. The reason is the law requires survivors to show they depended on the deceased for financial, emotional, and other support. Adult children typically have their own lives and do not qualify as dependents.
Contact Fronzuto Law Group for Help Recovering Wrongful Death Compensation
Though the compensation laws regarding wrongful death can be confusing in New Jersey, the qualified wrongful death attorneys at Fronzuto Law Group can help you and your family members cut through the confusion with certainty. We can provide the support and guidance you need to prepare for and file a lawsuit and then calculate possible damages for settlement or trial purposes. We will talk through all of your options, negotiate with the other side, and fight for you at trial if a settlement that truly compensates you cannot be reached.
Let us listen to your wrongful death case and discuss how we can help you to move forward in proving negligence for someone else’s actions that caused your loss. Call 973-435-4551, toll-free at 888-409-0816, or contact us online to enlist a free case review by experienced wrongful death lawyers. If you lost a loved one to another’s negligence or wrongful acts in New Jersey, our team will advocate for you in recovering the damages your family deserves.