When your loved one dies because of the heedless acts of another person, you have a right to hold the wrongdoer accountable for your losses, from financial support to guidance, care and consortium, from any unpaid medical bills to the costs of funeral and burial services. In New Jersey, an accidental or wrongful death claim is typically filed on behalf of the estate of the deceased, with the executor or administrator of the estate filing the claim. Any proceeds go the estate, and those proceeds are distributed in accordance with the deceased’s will or other estate planning.
A wrongful death claim is a civil action, but a wrongful death may also result in a criminal prosecution. The two proceedings are different—you’ll only be able to recover damages in the civil action. The criminal case may lead to other sanctions, including fines, but those fines are paid to the state.
There is a time limit in which you must file your wrongful death suit. In New Jersey, that’s two years from the actual date of death. There are good reasons for this rule, known as the “statute of limitations.” The longer you wait, the greater the likelihood that witnesses will die, move or otherwise become unavailable, and that memories will fade. In addition, the law considers it unfair to allow a person to live with the uncertainty of a lawsuit hanging over their head for years.
Any party who contributed, in whole or in part, to your loved one’s death may be named a defendant. You must show that the defendant failed to exercise a reasonable amount of care, that the failure caused your loved one’s death, and that you have suffered loss as a result of the death.
Contact Our Office
For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 973-993-8787. We have office locations in Morristown and Newton, but will visit you in your home or the hospital, if necessary.
We take all wrongful death claims on a contingency basis. You will not incur legal fees unless attorney Popper recovers compensation for your losses.