When your loved one has died because of the wrongful act of another person, the grief can paralyze you. But you have a right to pursue compensation for your losses-for the loss of support, the loss of companionship and guidance, and any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the death. Here are some basic guidelines to help you understand and protect your rights in a wrongful death action in New Jersey.
WHAT IS WRONGFUL DEATH?
In New Jersey, a wrongful death claim must be based on the negligent or wrongful act of another person. The behavior that led to the person’s death must have been sufficient to have given rise to a personal injury claim, had the person survived. Because of that approach, a wrongful death claim in New Jersey is filed by the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate, on behalf of the estate. As a practical matter, any recovery goes to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
It is important to understand that survivors may file a wrongful death claim, even where a criminal charge has been brought against the defendant. The function of the wrongful death claim is to provide financial compensation for losses. The criminal action only seeks to identify and impose penalties, such as incarceration.
HOW SOON MUST YOU FILE A WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM?
Like all other jurisdictions, New Jersey has a statute of limitations, a law that requires that legal action be filed within a specified period of time. In wrongful death claims, the lawsuit must be filed within two years of the actual date of the person’s death.
WHO CAN BE SUED FOR WRONGFUL DEATH?
In a wrongful death action based on negligence, any party whose actions failed to meet the reasonably accepted standard of care, and whose actions caused, in part or in whole, the death may be liable for damages. Examples include:
- A person who carelessly operated a motor vehicle
- A manufacturer or product designer who did not use reasonable care
- A person who failed to properly maintain property
- A building owner, developer or general contractor who did not take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of workers or bystanders
CONTACT THE LAW OFFICES OF MALLON & TRANGER
To learn how we can help you if you have lost a loved one because of an accidental or wrongful death, contact us online or call us at 732-702-0333 (toll free at ) . There is no charge for your first meeting. We have offices in Freehold and Point Pleasant.