When a loved one is injured in an accident, they may be left with a reduced but still strong quality of life. While disabilities from an injury may be a hardship, damages can be paid to account for that. When a loved one is killed in an accident, their entire future is stolen, and monetary damages may never be enough to compensate you.
Even so, your family may need help paying for funeral and burial costs, affording things like rent and groceries going forward, and paying for other costs and expenses. Our attorneys can seek to hold the at-fault parties responsible and get compensation paid to cover these damages so your family has the support it needs after your loss. We can also potentially seek additional punitive damages where appropriate.
For a free evaluation of your case, call Legal Care New Jersey’s wrongful death lawyers at (732) 838-9769 today.
What Constitutes a Wrongful Death in Union City, NJ?
The phrase “wrongful death” refers to a civil case usually filed for the accidental death of a loved one. You can, in fact, sue in civil court if a loved one is murdered, and our lawyers can help with that kind of case as well; however, most wrongful death cases are, in fact, based on accidental deaths. For a wrongful death case to exist, you have to show a few elements are present.
First, there must be a “wrongful act.” That is, there must have been some kind of mistake or violation that caused the accident in the first place for someone to be held responsible for someone else’s death. In general, everyone has a duty to act reasonably in any given situation to avoid injuring those around them. However, other laws might create more specific duties as well.
Any violation of these legal duties can provide the base “wrongful act” at the center of a wrongful death case. For example, speeding or drunk driving are common violations on the road that can easily lead to a deadly accident. In cases of medical malpractice, a doctor failing to uphold the standard of care in how they treated their patient could lead to misdiagnosis or surgical errors. As a final example, a violation of building codes could lead to an apartment fire spreading faster than it is supposed to or residents not having proper warnings from missing or broken smoke detectors.
You must also have proof that the accident and the wrongful act were what actually caused your loved one’s death. In some cases, this can be complex. For example, if they were in an accident in snowy weather and they went into a skid and crashed into a drunk driver, it is possible they would have been just as seriously injured if they crashed into an embankment or a tree instead of the drunk driver. Similarly, if a doctor fails to diagnose a patient’s cancer, but the cancer is already quite advanced, it is possible that treatment would have been ineffective, and the misdiagnosis might not have had any effect.
Lastly, you must prove that you suffered damages. The death of a loved one is, itself, enough to fulfill this element of your case. However, you and your family will also face damages, such as the lost companionship of your loved one and their lost income. However, not all of these damages can be compensated.
Damages in Wrongful Death Claims in Union City, NJ
When you file a wrongful death claim, you will actually be filing two closely related claims. One is the wrongful death claim itself, which compensates the family for the loss of their loved one. The other is a survival action, which pays the victim’s estate for the harm the victim faced before death.
In a wrongful death claim, you can only claim “pecuniary” damages for your loss. This means that even though you and your family might be going through the worst days and weeks of your lives, you cannot claim damages for your own pain and suffering and loss. Instead, you are limited to claims for lost income, lost funeral expenses, lost inheritances, and other economic damages.
In the survival action, the victim’s estate can claim compensation for the full value of any damages the victim would have been entitled to in a personal injury case if they survived the accident. The damages in these claims can also include funeral expenses if you chose to claim them here instead of the other claim. However, in this claim, you can also get damages for the victim’s lost wages before they passed away, any medical expenses from before their death, and any pain and suffering they experienced during the time between the accident and their ultimate death. Even in accidents where the victim is killed quickly, they might face immense fear and pain at the injury. However, in accidents where the victim lingers in a coma or has weeks or months of hospitalization and declining health, their pain and suffering damages are potentially much higher.
Note here that the pain and suffering damages are for the victim’s pain and suffering, not the family’s. These damage are paid, along with other damages from the survival action, into the victim’s estate and distributed through their will or intestate succession, whereas the other damages from a wrongful death lawsuit are paid directly to the family members.
How Long Do You Have to Bring a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Union City, NJ?
Both the survival action and the wrongful death suit must be filed within two years of the victim’s death, as per N.J.S.A. § 2A:15-3(b) and § 2A:31-3, respectively. However, cases involving murder or manslaughter or deaths where the cause of death was intentionally hidden might allow for more time to sue.
Call Our Wrongful Death Lawyers in Union City, NJ Today
For help with your potential claim, call the wrongful death attorneys from Legal Care at (732) 838-9769.