Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Jersey?

Couple pining after their relative after funeral

Losing a loved one is never easy, but when it happens due to someone else’s negligence, it can be even more devastating. Although it’s challenging to consider filing a lawsuit in the wake of losing a loved one, it’s crucial to hold responsible parties accountable for their actions. Even though nothing can bring your loved one back, attaining justice can give survivors the peace e of mind they need to move forward with their lives. Please continue reading to learn who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim in New Jersey and how our compassionate Morris County Wrongful Death Attorneys can help guide you through your legal options during this difficult time. 

Who is Eligible to File a New Jersey Wrongful Death Claim?

In some states, the deceased’s surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In New Jersey, however, only the personal representative, also known as the executor of the deceased person’s estate, is permitted to file a wrongful death claim in the civil court system. A personal representative is typically named in a will during a person’s lifetime. If the person dies without a will naming a personal representative, the court will appoint someone as the administrator to initiate the lawsuit. Surviving family members are not allowed to bring a wrongful death claim to court unless that family member is named as the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. The personal representative will file a wrongful death claim on half of the bereaved family who are entitled to inherit from the decent under intestacy laws, including:

  • A surviving spouse
  • Surviving children (including legally adopted children)
  • Surviving parents
  • Surviving siblings

Despite the personal representative having to file the wrongful death claim, any damages awarded will go to the deceased person’s survivors. It’s important to note that to recover wrongful death damages, a surviving family member must establish a dependency on the deceased. The damages awarded generally focus on the financial impact of the person’s death. This means surviving family members can’t seek compensation for their pain and suffering. However, if a surviving family member was present and witnessed the accident or incident that caused their loved one’s fatal injuries, they may be able to seek compensation or grief and emotional distress.

What Damages Are Available?

In a successful New Jersey wrongful death claim, you must be able to prove that the defendant, whether intentionally or negligently, caused the decedent’s death. If they had lived, they would have been able to recover damages. The following include but are not limited to the damages surviving family members may be entitled to:

  • Compensation for medical bills related to the deceased person’s final illness or injury
  • Funeral or burial expenses
  • The loss of financial support and benefits
  • Loss of companionship, care, advice, and guidance
  • The value of household services

What is the Statute of Limitations?

Like all other lawsuits, wrongful death claims in New Jersey must be filed within a specific time frame. The statute of limitation for most wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the person’s death. If the personal representative fails to file the claim within this strict deadline, they will face the absolute bar of recovery.

If you have lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence or intentional act, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined attorney from Lutz Injury Law, who can help you fight for the justice you deserve.

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