Money cannot bring back a loved one nor erase the pain of a life lost. What a wrongful death settlement can provide is financial security for surviving family members and, hopefully, the message for others to act more safely and prevent the same kind of accident in the future.
Wrongful death cases seek two types of outcome. The family deprived of a primary earner faces an uncertain future, therefore, compensatory damages are awarded to ease their financial concerns. Then, a legal judgment for punitive damages addresses, specifically, the negligence and maliciousness shown by the party at fault.
After you come to us regarding a wrongful death, our caring and attentive attorneys work with you every step of the way to pursue justice. We gather all the evidence needed to ensure that a jury understands the extent to which your life has been upended by your loved one’s wrongful death. We want you to find closure with the case’s resolution, and we are mindful of the toll the entire experience takes on you and your family.
What is Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is when a person’s death is the fault of another person or entity. This is different from any criminal charge like murder in that wrongful death is an issue for civil court rather than criminal court. Wrongful death claims can cover a wide variety of scenarios from fatal accidents to medical malpractice and even cases of faulty products.
It’s important to note that even if the defendant in your suit is under criminal investigation related to the death, you can still file a wrongful death suit. Your wrongful death case is completely independent of any criminal cases, so even if the defendant is found not guilty in their criminal case, you could still when damages from them in your wrongful death case.
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Who Can Make a Wrongful Death Claim?
In most cases, only immediate family members can file a wrongful death claim. The purpose of these claims is to compensate surviving family members for funeral costs and loss of income due to their loved one’s death.
There are other factors involved as well such as emotional pain and suffering and loss of companionship. Because of this, romantic partners may also make claims. Distant family members can be compensated as well if they can demonstrate a close enough relationship. When it comes to financial benefits though, anyone who suffers financially due to the victim’s death may be entitled to damages.
Who Can be the Target for a Wrongful Death Claim?
When you’re making your claim for a wrongful death, there are quite a few different parties who can be held liable. In a car accident, for example, the other driver can be held responsible or even that driver’s employer if the accident occurred while they were on a work call. If a roadway was dangerous, the designer could be held liable in addition to any government agencies who fail to provide sufficient warning.
Alcohol is often involved in fatal accidents which can provide even more avenues for wrongful death claims. Not only can an impaired driver be held responsible, but the person who provided them with alcohol can be liable as well. Even the owner of the establishment where they were served alcohol can be held responsible.
Calculating A Wrongful Death Settlement
The jury considers a number of factors when determining an amount of financial damages. The age of the deceased, the resulting loss of income due to his or her death, the loss of parental counsel and guidance, the loss of support or services, the costs for a funeral and the loss of inheritance all come under scrutiny during deliberations. To help the jury with those calculations, our legal team brings in expert witnesses who can estimate dollar amounts. Plus, expert economists, therapists, and others to show the jury the deep nature of your loss and the financial settlement necessary for you to retain your quality of life.
It is impossible to put a price on your personal relationship with the deceased, of course. So, we learn about your loved one by talking with those closest to you. Your friends, coworkers and family members help us tell the story of your relationship. Then the jury will factor emotional loss into their calculation of your compensatory damages.
Punitive Damages or Punishment
In addition to compensatory damages, punitive damages (also called exemplary damages) may be awarded if the party at fault acted in a particularly reckless or malevolent manner. Punitive damages are not routinely awarded, and generally are not enormous in amount. In order to qualify for punitive damages in New Jersey, “there must be evidence” that the party at fault acted with “actual malice” and/or in “wanton and willful disregard” for the rights of others.
Statute of Limitations
Unlike most criminal offenses involving a death, wrongful death civil suits have a statute of limitations. That means there’s a limited time you can file before it’s too late and the guilty party can no longer be held accountable.
In the state of New Jersey, the statute of limitations is two years from the victim’s death. If you want to avoid having your suit barred from court, make sure you file as soon as possible to ensure compliance with the limited time. An experienced wrongful death lawyer will help you through the process as you deal with the stress and hardship of dealing with the loss.
New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you or your family are suffering from a wrongful death, make sure you get the compensation you deserve with the help of an experienced wrongful death lawyer. For representation you can count on, Peter Davis and Associates has got your back. Our legal team has practiced personal injury and wrongful death litigation in New Jersey since 1989, and we have helped thousands of clients through the pain and uncertainty of a wrongful death case.
The Law Offices of Peter N. Davis and Associates is a personal injury law firm in New Jersey servicing communities such as Paterson, Passaic, and Newark. Our staff has more than 60 years of combined law experience and welcome personal injury cases related to auto accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, workers’ compensation and premises liability. To schedule a consultation with one of our practicing attorneys, please give us a call at 973-279-7246 or complete our inquiry contact form.