Wrongful Death Lawyer Helping Families in Bergen County
The death of a loved one is always hard to bear, but can be particularly troubling when that death is not due to natural causes. If someone else is directly responsible for the death of a close family member, whether through an accident involving negligence or recklessness or through malicious intent, the state of New Jersey provides you with legal recourse. The personal injury attorneys at Levin & Malkin are well-credentialed and highly skilled. We have won millions of dollars for clients throughout New Jersey who, like you, have experienced the tragedy of losing someone they love in a wrongful death event.
Defining Wrongful Death
in New Jersey, a wrongful death is “a wrongful act, neglect or default” that causes a person’s death. When our attorneys file a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf it may be because the deceased died as a result of one of the following:
- Traffic accident
- Construction site accident
- Premises liability accident (e.g. collapsed structure, slippery stairs, dog bite)
- Medical malpractice
- Malicious assault
Of course, not every traffic fatality, accident on someone else’s property, or death during surgery constitutes a wrongful death. The key to the charge is that another person’s action or inaction led directly to the victim’s death and that said action or inaction violated the “duty of care” owed to the victim by the individual against whom the charge is brought.
In order to understand the concept of “wrongful death” it is helpful to think of whether, had the victim survived, he/she would have been able to sue the defendant for personal injury. Wrongful death is a civil claim and so may be brought against a defendant who has not been criminally charged or has been charged, tried and acquitted of a criminal charge. In a civil lawsuit based on a violent assault, the civil standard for conviction is lower but only monetary damages are at stake. Even if you win a wrongful death lawsuit, the defendant will not be incarcerated or subjected to other criminal penalties.
Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Death Claims in New Jersey
Wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within 2 years of the deceased’s death. It is always best to consider filing a wrongful death claim as soon as possible after the death. When you contact our wrongful death attorneys, we will listen carefully to the facts of your case and clarify your options. You will find us to be efficient, effective and compassionate regarding you terrible trauma.
Who is permitted to file a wrongful death claim in New Jersey?
Only the closest family members are legally allowed to file wrongful death claims in New Jersey and any recovered damages will be distributed first to any surviving family members who were dependent on the victim’s income. The following family members will receive damages in the sequence below:
- Surviving spouse and children or grandchildren
- Surviving parents
- Surviving siblings, nieces, or nephews
- Anyone who can prove financial dependency on the deceased
The way it works is that the surviving spouse or children are, as noted, at the top of the list. Only if there is no one in either category will surviving parents receive damages, and so on down the line.
Damages Levin & Malkin Will Fight To Win for You in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
We have fought hard for over 30 years to see to it that justice is done for families like yours. We understand and empathize with the misery the loss of your loved one has caused. Though we cannot bring that person back to you, we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve so that you are not further punished by financial difficulties.
Levin & Malkin wrongful death attorneys have many successful strategies to use during negotiation or litigation, and we have a long track record of successful settlements and verdicts. We will fight aggressively to win you damages for:
- Loss of financial support as projected into the future if the deceased had lived
- Loss of companionship, care, comfort, and guidance
- Loss of household services like cleaning, gardening, childcare, auto repair
- Medical, funeral and burial costs tied to the deceased’s end of life
- Property replacement (e.g. for a car that has been destroyed)
- Future inheritance for children of the deceased
Although New Jersey law does not allocate compensation for the emotional distress of the family members per se, the plaintiffs may be able to file separate claims for “negligent infliction of emotional distress” if they were present when the death occurred or can prove severe psychological incapacity as a result of the event.
Under New Jersey’s survival statute, which pays damages to the estate of the victim, it is possible to claim damages that would have been awarded to the deceased if that individual had survived — such as: compensation for physical pain and suffering of that person, disability, disfigurement, lost earning capacity; and loss of enjoyment of life.
Modified Comparative Fault Means You Must Have a Sharp Wrongful Death Attorney
New Jersey is one of the states that follows the principle of modified comparative fault. “Comparative” in this context means that each party in an accident may be assigned a percentage of fault by the courts. If your loved one is determined to have been 20 percent responsible for his/her own injury, your family’s awarded damages will be lessened by 20 percent. This means that if your family is awarded damages of $1 million, you will actually receive a total of $800,000.
“Modified” in the phrase “modified comparative fault” signifies that you will only be awarded damages if your loved one is found to be 50 percent or less at fault for the accident. Though it may seem unfair, if the court determines that your family member was even a touch more than 50 percent at fault, you will receive no damages at all for the fatality.
Contact Our Hackensack Wrongful Death Attorney
Our experienced wrongful death attorneys are well aware of how overwhelming your situation is, not only emotionally but financially. We are here to fight with every bit of strength and legal savvy we have to make certain that you and your family receive the compensation you are entitled to. We will charge you absolutely nothing until we win your case and provide you not only with financial security but with a sense of restorative justice. Contact us today for consultation.