The death of a loved one is always a difficult event for the family of the deceased. What can exacerbate the trauma and pain, though, is when your loved one died unexpectedly due to the wrongful act of another person. If this has happened to your family, what can be done, and where can you turn?
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death is a death that was caused by the wrongful or negligent act or omission of another person or entity. The victim’s surviving heirs are eligible to file a lawsuit to pursue financial compensation for the death of their loved one.
One way to look at a wrongful death lawsuit is that, had the victim survived, the victim would have had grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant. Whether your loved one was killed in a car accident with a drunk driver, died during a routine surgery as a result of a surgeon’s error, died as a result of a slip and fall on slick stairs in an apartment building, or tragically passed due to the malfunctioning of improperly maintained equipment at work, a wrongful death lawsuit is your family’s opportunity to hold the defendant accountable for the death and to receive financial compensation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Jersey?
Here in New Jersey, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by the executor or administrator of the victim’s estate or will. If the victim had not yet created a will at the time of his or her passing, then the probate court will appoint a representative of the estate.
Wrongful death claims are filed on behalf of surviving relatives that were dependents of the victim at the time of the tragic death, such as the following:
- The victim’s spouse
- Children of the victim
- Parents of the deceased
- The victim’s grandchildren
- Siblings of the deceased
- Nieces or nephews of the victim
Common Causes of Wrongful Death Cases in New Jersey
There is almost no limit to the possible incidents that could lead to a wrongful death claim. Lawsuits have been filed because deaths stemming from:
- Premises liability accidents, such as slip and falls
- Car, truck, motorcycle, bus, taxi, bicycle, or pedestrian crashes
- Medical malpractice
- Construction accidents
- Birth accidents
- School shootings
- Airplane or helicopter crashes
- Workplace accidents
- Defective products
- Wrongful acts or omissions by law enforcement
Damages You Can Recover in a Wrongful Death Case in New Jersey
Nothing the legal system does can undo the tragic accident that killed your loved one. What the legal system aims to do, though, is to provide financial compensation to the victim’s loved ones to help them get back on their feet and adjust to the next chapter in their lives without the deceased.
There are both economic and non-economic damages that wrongful death plaintiffs may pursue, such as the following:
- All medical costs stemming from the accident that killed your loved one. While some wrongful death victims die at the scene of the accident, others may continue to live for weeks or months before ultimately passing. Whether it is an emergency surgery done in an attempt to save the victim’s life, a hospital stay in the Intensive Care Unit that lasts six months, or a helicopter ride from the car accident scene to the nearest Emergency Room, these bills can be steep.
- Burial and funeral expenses.
- Loss of financial support. This can include the wages that the victim would have made had he or she not been injured and continued working. It can also include an inheritance or gift that the victim was expected to give to the surviving loved ones.
- Loss of companionship, care, or guidance. A child who loses his or her parent or a spouse who loses his or her spouse in a truck accident or other fatal incident may not ever be the same, and the legal system attempts to provide some financial compensation to account for that loss.
- Loss of household services that hold value, such as childcare, chores, or cleaning.
Why You Need an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney in New Jersey
Our attorneys at Harrell Law Firm fully understand the emotional and financial trauma you and your family may be experiencing due to the tragic loss of a loved one. Having a trusted and experienced ally to stand in your corner and fight for justice on your behalf while you and your family focus on the grieving process can make all the difference.
Because of that, we strongly recommend that you consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
At Harrell Law Firm, we have witnessed firsthand that insurance companies are businesses that are singularly focused on the bottom line. No matter what they may say to you about the death of your loved one, they will do everything possible to minimize the amount of financial compensation that you and your family receive.
If you attempt to handle your case without an attorney, you are likely to receive lowball offer after lowball offer from the insurance company, as they will have no incentive to present a fair offer to you.
However, if you decide to hire an experienced wrongful death lawyer, you will send a message that the insurance company will hear loud and clear that your case needs to be taken seriously and that, absent a fair settlement offer, you are more than prepared to take your case all the way to trial – and win – if necessary.
Not only can hiring a lawyer put you in the best position possible to achieve a successful outcome if your case goes to trial, but it can also expedite the settlement process because the insurance company will know that lowball settlement offers are a waste of time and that it can cut its losses by presenting a fair settlement offer now instead of absorbing the costs and uncertainty associated with dragging the process out.
What Can Harrell Law Firm Do for You?
Wrongful death plaintiffs that hire Harrell Law Firm can expect the individualized care and attention that their case requires.
Every plaintiff is different, and every case is different. Once enlisted to your cause, we immediately begin building and investigating your case. We negotiate directly with the insurance company so our clients can focus on grieving and rebuilding their lives. We engage experts when necessary that can help prove our case at trial.
While most wrongful death cases settle out of court, we have the experience, skill, and resources to take your case to trial and win if necessary.
If you have lost a loved one due to the wrongful act or omission of another person or entity, call Harrell Law Firm today to book a complimentary and confidential consultation. We handle all wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you will never receive a bill from us unless you win your case.