A wrongful death claim may arise when someone passes away because of a wrongful action or failure to act by someone else. These are often emotionally charged cases, and a lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal procedures to get compensation.
A wrongful death, in the legal sense, is rooted in the wrongful actions of another that led to your loved one’s passing. Family members often want to file these cases to recover compensation for their grievous loss, but an estate administrator must be the one to file the case. Family members normally entitled to take possession of a deceased’s intestate estate may also recover damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit. Exactly who takes what depends on the surviving family members involved in the case. Damages may include monetary losses and non-economic injuries like pain and suffering.
To schedule a free review of your family’s case, call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769 and talk to our wrongful death lawyers.
How to Tell if You Have a Wrongful Death Claim in Lakewood
When a loved one passes away, the pain and grief we experience always make the loss feel wrongful. However, not every death is wrongful, at least legally speaking. Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:31-1, a wrongful death is one caused by another person’s wrongful actions, negligence, or failure to act. The wrongful act or omission should be one the deceased person could have sued for had they survived the incident.
Common examples of wrongful death claims can be found in car accidents, medical malpractice, and cases of neglect. Car crashes are often fatal, and negligent drivers may be liable for the wrongful death of the other driver.
Medical malpractice cases are a bit more complicated, as not all medical mistakes are malpractice, even if the patient does not survive. However, surgeries gone wrong and misdiagnoses are common wrongful death claims in medical settings.
Neglect may be met with criminal charges, depending on the situation, and the defendant can also be sued for wrongful death. For example, if a nursing home resident passed away because the staff stopped feeding them, the family would have a strong wrongful death claim.
If your loved one recently passed away, but you are unsure whether the conditions of their passing amount to wrongful death, speak to a lawyer immediately.
People Allowed to File Wrongful Death Claims in Lakewood
One of the more complex aspects of wrongful death claims is who gets to file the case and collect compensation. The answer to this question tends to vary by state. In New Jersey, a representative or administrator appointed by the deceased person’s will or the court must file the case. However, eligible family members are the ones who ultimately receive compensation.
Who Can File?
One of the most complicated elements of a wrongful death case is the number of people involved. The deceased person’s estate is often at the heart of the lawsuit, but their surviving family members also have significant interests in the case’s outcome. If the deceased person left behind a large immediate family, there are numerous interests to consider.
While the surviving family usually demands action for the wrongful death, the claims must be filed by an administrator or personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. If the deceased individual left behind a will, the administrator is likely named in the will. Often, immediate family members are named as administrators or representatives. However, other parties, like the deceased’s attorney, might be named instead.
If the wrongful death victim passed away intestate, meaning without a will, then the court may appoint an administrator ad prosequendum to represent the case. Our wrongful death lawyers can take your case to court and get an administrator appointed as quickly as possible.
Who Can Recover Damages?
Not everyone can recover damages in a wrongful death case. The law under N.J.S.A. § 2A:31-4 limits recovery to anyone entitled to take any intestate property, that is property without a will, in proportions by which they are normally entitled.
The law defines who can claim a deceased person’s estate if they pass away without a will. Spouses and children often take the largest shares. In some cases, only spouses and children take intestate property. If your loved one was unmarried and had no children, other family members, like siblings or parents, may recover damages instead.
If someone was financially dependent on the deceased person, they may take the same in proportions determined by the court without a jury. For example, if the deceased person provided financial assistance to their elderly parents, the parents may recover damages for the loss of support. Determinations aim to be fair and equitable in light of various considerations, including the age, physical or mental conditions, and current financial conditions of those seeking damages.
Possible Damages in Lakewood Wrongful Death Lawsuits
Damages are often quite significant in wrongful death claims. Typically, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases may recover for the pecuniary losses related to their loved one’s death and non-economic injuries that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
Pecuniary injuries and losses are related to money. Depending on how your loved one passed away, there might be costly medical bills that should be compensated. Often, pecuniary damages include losses the deceased person could have sued for if they survived. For example, if your loved one passed away after a car accident, you can claim their medical bills and destroyed vehicle as part of the pecuniary losses. Funeral and burial costs may also be claimed.
Non-economic damages are often rooted in pain and suffering, which can be very impactful in a wrongful death case. On top of that, you can sue for the loss of companionship, consortium, parental guidance, and other emotional losses. Under N.J.S.A. § 2A:31-5, non-economic damages may be awarded in reference to pecuniary losses and in a way that the jury reasonably deems appropriate.
Call Our Lakewood Wrongful Death Attorneys For Help
Call Legal Care New Jersey at (732) 838-9769 and talk to our wrongful death lawyers to schedule a free evaluation of your family’s claims.