Atlantic City Wrongful Death Attorney
Wrongful death claims are among the most difficult and painful ones on which any attorney ever works. When you face the loss of a loved one, you can’t possibly calculate your losses—you can’t quantify the value of a human being. While you come to grips with the pain, anger, and grief precipitated by a loss of such magnitude, it’s difficult to also come to grips with the fact that, in New Jersey, you can only receive compensation for actual financial losses and not noneconomic damages, such as the pain and suffering that always accompanies such tremendous loss. If you lost a loved one in an accident that someone else’s negligence caused, you need experienced legal counsel.
New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Act
Eligible survivors can pursue wrongful death claims in New Jersey when victims (the deceased) could have brought personal injury claims had they survived their accidents. Much like a personal injury claim, a wrongful death claim requires proof of negligence on the part of the defendant. Establishment of such liability requires four basic elements:
- First, the defendant must have owed a duty of care to the deceased. For example, if a car accident precipitated the wrongful death, the negligent driver would have owed a duty of care to drive reasonably and prudently and to not jeopardize others on the road, including the deceased.
- The defendant must have breached the duty of care owed to the deceased. For example, the defendant—in the hypothetical car accident—might have breached this duty of care by driving at extreme speeds on bad roads or by driving under the influence of alcohol, distraction, or exhaustion. Defendants who fail to recognize the important responsibility of driving breach their duty of care to everyone else on the road.
- In addition, the defendant’s breach of care must have caused the deceased’s death. In other words, the deceased would live today if the defendant’s breach of care (or negligence) had not caused the death.
- After meeting the preceding three elements, the deceased’s representatives are eligible to recover actual financial damages under New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Act.
Who’s Eligible To File?
Only a personal representative of the deceased’s eligible survivors can bring a wrongful death claim in New Jersey—such as an executor named in the deceased’s will. If the deceased has no will, then the probate court will appoint an appropriate representative. Such a representative can bring a claim for the surviving family members who are entitled to inherit property from the deceased via New Jersey’s intestacy law:
- The deceased’s surviving spouse and children
- The deceased’s surviving parents (if the deceased left no surviving spouse or children)
- The deceased’s surviving siblings, nieces, or nephews (if no parents survived)
- Any person who can effectively demonstrate actual dependence upon the deceased
To bring a wrongful death claim, the deceased’s survivor or survivors must adequately demonstrate that they had an actual dependency upon the deceased. A close relationship won’t suffice.
Recovery Of Damages
In a New Jersey wrongful death claim, plaintiffs can only recover actual financial (or pecuniary) damages. This means that the emotional and mental devastation wrought by such losses will not change the legal calculation of your losses. In extreme cases, however, you may pursue other legal avenues to compensation, including:
- Loss of income – Survivors may seek the income that the deceased would have earned and contributed to a family during a typical lifetime. Usually, plaintiffs must employ economists to calculate the total losses and provide expert testimony in defense of such amounts.
- Loss of services – When you lose a loved one, you lose that loved one’s assistance, guidance, training, and services. In a wrongful death claim, you can recover compensation for such losses if you can prove their economic value (not their sentimental or emotional values). Such services can even include house cleaning, childcare, and other household chores.
- Reasonable medical and funeral expenses – Survivors may seek compensation for the expenses related to the deceased’s medical care and reasonable funeral expenses in a wrongful death claim. They may effectively establish those costs by saving the attendant bills and receipts.
Statute Of Limitations
A wrongful death claim typically involves extensive legal investigations and preparation, so pay careful attention to New Jersey’s statute of limitations. In New Jersey, you have two years from the time of the deceased’s death to bring such a claim. Because wrongful death claims are, by their nature, exceedingly complicated and fraught with emotions, hand the baton over to an experienced New Jersey wrongful death attorney while you grieve.
If You Lost A Loved One To Wrongful Death, Contact An Experienced Atlantic City Wrongful Death Attorney Today
If you lost a loved one in a wrongful death case, no words and no compensation can ever adequately address your loss. Many families, however, must deal with this insurmountable grief as they also grapple with the everyday expenses associated with losing an income earner. It’s almost impossible to find a balance amongst these warring goals, but sometimes that’s exactly what you must do.
The experienced wrongful death attorneys at The Levin Firm empathize with your position. They have the skill, knowledge, dedication, and compassion to aggressively advocate for your wrongful death claim’s most just resolution. Such claims are the most difficult to pursue, but your rights and your rightful compensation are too important to leave to chance. If you lost a loved one to wrongful death, the dedicated legal team at The Levin Firm is here to help, so please contact one of our attorneys through our online contact form or at (215) 825-5183 for a free consultation today.