When someone dies because of a careless or thoughtless act, the death can have far-reaching consequences, extending beyond family members. Close friends can be devastated by the loss, as can employers and others. There is a legal right to pursue damages for the wrongful death of a person, but how far does that right go? Does New Jersey place limits on who qualifies to seek compensation for a wrongful death and, if so, how is it restricted?
A wrongful death action in New Jersey is designed to compensate surviving family members for their losses, but is customarily filed by the executor of the decedent’s estate. New Jersey statute limits those who may share in any proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit to individuals who were actually dependent on the decedent at the time of death, or to persons entitled to a part of the estate under New Jersey’s intestacy laws. Those laws allow distribution of damages in a wrongful death claim as follows:
- If the deceased’s spouse and children are alive, the proceeds will go to the surviving spouse and children or grandchildren (if that grandchild’s parent is deceased)
- If there is no surviving spouse and there are no surviving children or grandchildren, the damages are payable to surviving parents of the deceased
- If the parents are also deceased, surviving siblings, nieces or nephews may be entitled to compensation
- Any person who can demonstrate that he or she was an actual dependent of the decedent may have a right to damages
Contact Attorney Howard D. Popper
To learn your options when you have lost a loved one in an accident, contact our office online or call attorney Popper at 973-993-8787. We have offices in Morristown and Newton, but will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary. There is no charge for your first consultation.
We handle all wrongful death claims on a contingency basis. You won’t be charged any legal fees unless attorney Popper recovers compensation for your losses.