What Is Wrongful Death? Who Can File a Wrongful Death Action?
When your loved one dies because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, you have the right to seek compensation for all your losses. In New Jersey, there are two different legal claims that arise after an accidental death—a wrongful death action and a survivor action. In this blog, we’ll look more closely at wrongful death claims.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Under New Jersey statute, a wrongful death is defined as one “caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” The factual circumstances typically must be such that the person who died would have had a valid personal injury claim if he or she had lived. However, because the person who suffered the injury is deceased, the claim must be brought by a third party on behalf of the decedent. Accordingly, a wrongful death claim is typically brought by the executor or personal representative of the deceased’s estate on behalf of surviving family members.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In New Jersey, even though the wrongful death claim must be filed by the executor or personal representative of the estate, any damages awarded will be distributed to family members or others, as set forth in New Jersey law. Such compensation may go to:
- The surviving spouse, children and grandchildren of the deceased
- Any surviving parents
- Surviving siblings, nieces or nephews, and
- Any other person who can prove financial dependence on the decedent.
There is, however, a hierarchy for the distribution of damages. The spouse and surviving children take priority—surviving parents are not entitled to any compensation unless there are no surviving children and no surviving spouse. Siblings, nieces and nephews receive no monetary award if there are surviving parents, children, grandchildren, or a surviving spouse.
Contact the Law Office of Howard D. Popper
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.