Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Jersey?

Personal Injury • January 26, 2022

It can be traumatic to lose a loved one to negligence by another individual or entity. If you are in New Jersey and you believe that you lost your loved one due to negligence, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to recuperate damages.

In New Jersey, you may be able to receive damages for a wrongful death lawsuit if you are an immediate family member. This can include a surviving spouse, surviving children and grandchildren, surviving parents, surviving siblings, and surviving nieces and nephews. Family members must demonstrate in some way that they were dependent on the decedent to receive damages.

It’s important to note that in New Jersey, a personal representative (also known as the executor), may be the required to bring about a wrongful death claim. If the decedent passed without identifying a personal representative, the court can appoint someone. This personal representative brings the suit under their own name, but the amount received in damages is reserved for surviving family members.

Additionally, there is a hierarchy of who is able to receive the compensation from the wrongful death claim. Typically, the spouse and children of the decedent are first in line to receive damages. If there is no spouse or children, the parents and other dependent relatives are next in line. 

What Constitutes a Wrongful Death Claim?

Before filing a wrongful death claim, it is imperative that you understand how “wrongful death” is defined legally. In general, a wrongful death is when someone has died as a result of the negligence (or sometimes an intentional act) of another individual or entity.

Some examples include car accidents, medical malpractice, and intentional acts. Another way to look at a wrongful death claim is if the decedent had lived, they would have been eligible to pursue a personal injury lawsuit for their incurred injury. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is the amount of time an individual has to file a lawsuit. This statute varies by state and the type of lawsuit. In New Jersey, an individual has two years from the date of their loved one’s death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. It is imperative to file within this time period, or the lawsuit will likely be thrown out of court.

Of note, New Jersey does not have a statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim if the death was caused by murder, manslaughter, or aggravated murder if the at-fault individual who caused the death was convicted.

What Damages Can an Individual Receive?

Survivors can receive economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include compensation for financial hardship, such as loss of financial support, medical expenses, and funeral and burial expenses.

Non-economic damages are intangible loses, and they can include loss of companionship and care, loss of consortium, and loss of parental guidance.

Hiring a Lawyer is Beneficial

It may be beneficial to work with a lawyer to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can assist in filing a lawsuit and navigating the criminal justice system so you can focus on grieving the loss of your loved one. There’s no need to file a lawsuit on your own; contact a Jersey City wrongful death attorney today for a consultation.