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A wrongful death lawsuit can result from a person’s death that has been caused by the negligent acts of another person or entity. Auto accidents are the most common cause of wrongful death. These types of accidents involve not only drivers, but pedestrians and cyclists who are killed due to the alleged neglect of others.
What Factors into a Wrongful Death Settlement?
In some states, if the deceased is determined to be even 10 percent negligent, there is no case. However, New Jersey is a comparative negligence state. That means the deceased could be partially at fault and their family members could still receive a wrongful death settlement. At least 50 percent negligence on the part of the defendant must be proven by the plaintiff.
For example, if a teenager on a bicycle rides through a red light and is tragically killed after being struck by a car, the teenager wasn’t following the rules of the road. However, if the driver didn’t do enough to avoid the teenager, there could be a viable wrongful death claim. Similarly, an investigation could determine that the driver was distracted by cell phone use, which would factor into a determination of negligence.
Wrongful death settlements are based largely on economic loss and pain and suffering. There are many different types of past and future economic loss. In addition to medical expenses, if the deceased was the breadwinner of the family, economic loss would include financial support the person would have provided to family members. It could even include the cost of care for elderly relatives of the deceased later in life.
In New Jersey, the family members of the deceased cannot receive compensation for emotional loss in a wrongful death case. However, if the family needs counseling to cope with the death of their loved one, the cost of counseling could be considered an economic loss. These and other details ultimately affect the amount of a wrongful death settlement.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in New Jersey is two years. More specifically, you’re required to either settle the claim or file legal documents with the courts as part of a formal lawsuit within two years of the incident that caused the wrongful death, not the death itself.
If you’ve lost a loved one and believe another person, business, or entity was at fault, contact us to schedule a consultation. Edward P. Shamy, Jr. is an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can review the facts of your specific case and help you determine the best path forward.