What Makes a Death Wrongful?

When a loved one dies, everything seems wrong. It does not feel like the rest of the world should be able to carry on as if nothing has happened when your world has been shattered. This is why it can be confusing to learn that only some deaths are considered wrongful deaths

A wrongful death is a legal term. In New Jersey, a wrongful death is a death that was caused by the “wrongful act, neglect or default” or another. Essentially any death may be considered a wrongful death if it would not have occurred but for the action or inaction of another person. That other person owed a “duty of care” to the victim, and should therefore be held responsible for what happened. 

Determining if your loved one was owed a duty of care, and a wrongful death lawsuit is therefore appropriate, is one of the things the attorneys on our team can talk with you about during an initial consultation. You should not hesitate to contact us if there is even a small chance that your loved one’s death could have been prevented. You do not have to struggle with this burden on your own. 

Who Can File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

A wrongful death lawsuit may be filed by a victim’s closest family members within 2 years of the date of death. It is, however, best to speak with an experienced wrongful death attorney as soon as possible so all of the relevant evidence can be gathered and preserved. 

Under New Jersey law, close family members include:

  • The surviving spouse;
  • Surviving children or grandchildren;
  • Surviving parents;
  • Surviving siblings, nieces, or nephews; or
  • Anyone who can prove financial dependency on the deceased.

Any damages that are recovered will be distributed to the closest surviving family members. Less closely related family members can only receive compensation if there are no closer relatives.

Why Should You File A Wrongful Death Lawsuit? 

Filing a lawsuit is not going to bring your loved one back. It may, however, help you get some closure and move forward. 

In many wrongful death lawsuits the person who caused your loved one’s death is not going to face criminal charges. The only way to hold them responsible for what they did, and discourage them from doing it again, is by filing a wrongful death lawsuit. 

A lawsuit may also provide the financial compensation you need to provide for your family in the absence of your loved one. 

Under New Jersey’s survival statute, which pays damages to the estate of the victim, it is possible for surviving relatives to claim damages that would have been awarded to the deceased if that individual had survived such as: 

  • compensation for physical pain and suffering, 
  • disability, 
  • disfigurement, 
  • lost earning capacity, and 
  • loss of enjoyment of life.

Surviving relatives can also seek compensation 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); and 
  • Future inheritance for children of the deceased. 

Millions Won For Our Clients

If your loved one was killed, and you believe their death could have been prevented, it is time to talk to an experienced wrongful death attorney. The team at Levin & Malkin has helped the surviving relatives of wrongful death victims recover the compensation they deserve. If you would like to discuss your loved one’s death with us, we are here to listen. Please contact our office to schedule a meeting. 

Posted in: Wrongful Death