• Can I File a Wrongful Death Suit in New Jersey?

    Wrongful Death 101

    When a loved one passes away, compensation is likely the last thing on your mind, especially when the death is sudden or unexpected. However, when someone acted in a way that lead to the unnecessary death, it is important to seek the damages you are owed. This compensation can go a long way in covering funeral expenses and handling the estate after your loved one has passed.

    In New Jersey, a wrongful death suit can be filed when the person’s death was caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or due to the default of another person. A rule of thumb is whether the person could have filed a personal injury lawsuit had they not died, but the protections can go beyond those parameters.

    When Can a Wrongful Death Claim be Pursued?

    If you are considering a wrongful death claim, consider if you can establish a party’s liability and if negligence can be proven. Four elements to prove liability include:

    • Before moving forward with a claim, be sure the person had some sort of duty toward the victim and that they acted outside that duty when a reasonable person in the same situation would not. For instance, a medical professional has a duty of care for their patients.
    • The next step is to prove the person breached their duty. For instance, a motorist driving recklessly has breached their duty to others on the road by not driving carefully.
    • The breach of duty must be shown to have caused the death. Using the driving example, it must be shown that were the person driving carefully, the death would not have occurred.
    • The last element to prove is that damages came because of the incident and death. Actual financial losses must be shown and proven in order to pursue compensation.

    Who Can File?

    In New Jersey, only an eligible survivor may pursue a wrongful death claim. This includes:

    • Surviving spouse
    • Children
    • Surviving parents when there is not a spouse or children
    • If there are no surviving parents, spouse or children, the victim’s surviving siblings or their children may seek damages.

    Those pursuing a claim must have actual dependency on the victim and must prove that dependency further than just a relationship.

    If you are unsure if you can pursue a wrongful death claim, our team of South Jersey wrongful death lawyers at the law firm of Jarve Kaplan Granato Starr can help. With our years of experience, we can tell you if you are eligible to pursue a claim and what your best defense may be.

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