When someone’s negligence causes the death of a loved one, you may have a cause of action under New Jersey’s wrongful death statute. This lawsuit can be brought by the representative of the victim’s estate, spouse, or surviving family member.

The purpose of the lawsuit is to seek recovery in the form of monetary damages for actual financial losses. If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, make sure to speak with a Cumberland County wrong death lawyer as soon as you are able. Contact a compassionate injury attorney for assistance today.

Wrongful Death Actions

Recovering damages in a wrongful death action varies from other types of lawsuits in several ways. The recovery is separate from the estate, and is distributed regardless of the victim’s will. This lawsuit is separate and distinct from probate proceedings. In cases that involve minors, proportions of the recovery must be approved by the court.

Family members that seek to recover under the law must show more than relationship, but actual dependency. This holds true for most family members, except for the victim’s spouse.

Calculating the value of the support a victim would have been able to provide their surviving spouse and relatives can be complex. There are a number of factors that a jury can rely upon to calculate the value of the support, including:

  • Victim’s age
  • Victim’s earning potential (and actual earnings)
  • Health of the victim prior to death
  • Life expectancy of the victim and each heir

Establishing Negligence

Similar to personal injury cases, a plaintiff has the burden of proof to establish entitlement to recovery under New Jersey tort law. Generally, the plaintiff must establish the following four elements with the help of their Cumberland County wrongful death attorney:

  • Duty – the defendant, also referred to as the tortfeasor, owed a duty to the victim to conform his conduct to a standard necessary to avoid an unreasonable risk of harm
    • Example – an operator of a motor vehicle (driver) owes a duty to pedestrians not to drive recklessly
  • Breach – the defendant’s actions fell below the standard of care owed to the plaintiff
    • Example – the driver drove recklessly, despite knowing this could cause harm
  • Causation – the defendant’s failure to act reasonably is causally connected to the victim’s death
    • Example – the pedestrian was killed due to the driver’s reckless driving (this seems obvious, but if a driver was driving recklessly and the pedestrian was unaware of this, and was not struck by the driver, but had a heart attack and died, then there would be no causal connection between the driving and the death)
  • Damages – as a result of the wrongful death of the victim, the plaintiff suffered actual financial losses
    • Example – financial support the victim would have paid to their spouse, children, and/or parents if they survived the tortious conduct of the defendant; actual financial losses also include medical bills related to the death, funeral services and burial costs.

Contact a Cumberland County Wrongful Death Attorney

If you are considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit, it is imperative that you speak with a Cumberland County wrongful death lawyer to discuss how to do so as soon as possible. Under New Jersey law, there is a statute of limitations on how long you have to bring a medical malpractice claim.

During the course of a lawsuit, certain mistakes may be forgivable – such as needing to reschedule a deposition or adjourning a court hearing.

However, failure to comply with the statute of limitations is usually not something that courts will forgive. Filing suit after the statute of limitations deadline can mean the difference between receiving compensation for a wrongful death action, and receiving nothing at all because the case is dismissed.

If you have questions or concerns about your case, contact a Cumberland County wrongful death attorney today for more information.