The attorneys at Cerussi & Gunn, P.C. use our extensive knowledge of the Wrongful Death Statute and Survivorship Statute to help our clients bring the appropriate claims against those responsible for their loved one’s death. We are proud to offer compassionate counsel to our clients throughout New Jersey and New York.
When you choose to retain Cerussi & Gunn, P.C., we will take the time to thoroughly review the facts surrounding your loved one’s death and determine the best course of action to take to afford you the appropriate compensation for your loss and hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence.
Wrongful death and survivorship claims can arise out of:
- Medical Malpractice
- A Slip and Fall
- A Product Defect
- A Warning Defect
- A Trucking Accident
- A Motor Vehicle Accident
- A Train Accident
- Workplace Accidents
- Any other type of personal injury claim that the deceased individual (decedent) could have brought if they had survived the injuries he or she sustained as a result of the negligence of another.
If your loved one has passed away as a result of the negligence of another there are two potential claims that can be brought: a wrongful death claim and a survivorship claim.
What Constitutes Wrongful Death in New Jersey?
The Wrongful Death Statute protects your right as a family member to pursue financial damages resulting from the death of your loved one.
In New Jersey, wrongful death is defined as a death that was “caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another.” A wrongful death case requires similar proof to a personal injury case, namely:
- Proof of negligence, which requires proof of a duty of care owed to the decedent
- A breach of that duty by another
- That the breached caused the decedent’s death
- Damages suffered by the surviving dependents of the decedent.
A wrongful death claim has many similarities to a personal injury claim; however, one important difference is that the survivors of the decedent in a wrongful death case may not seek compensation for any emotional pain and suffering. However, this may change in the near future as revisions to the Wrongful Death Act are currently being discussed in the New Jersey legislature, which would allow the surviving family members to be compensated for the pain and suffering as a result of the loss of a loved one.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, a wrongful death claim is brought before the court by a personal representative of the Estate of the decedent. This representative can be the executor/executrix of the victim’s will or if there is no will, then the probate court will appoint a person to be the administrator/administratrix of the decedent’s estate.
The wrongful death claim is brought by the representative of the Estate on behalf of the decedent’s surviving dependents.
Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim
Only actual financial losses are considered in a wrongful death case. The damages that can be sought include:
- Loss of Financial Support – The amount of income the decedent would have reasonably provided to their survivors.
- Loss of Services – The reasonable economic value of any services like cleaning, child care, and other chores the decedent would have provided.
- Loss of Companionship – The economic value of any companionship and guidance the decedent would have provided.
- Medical and Funeral Expenses – Any reasonable medical, funeral and burial expenses related to the decedent’s injury and death.
As mentioned above, based upon the current statute, surviving dependents cannot file for damages related to their emotional pain and suffering.
The Difference Between a Wrongful Death Case and a Survivorship Action
The Survivorship Statute allows the Estate of the deceased individual to make a claim on behalf of the decedent for the pain and suffering the person endured before their death. This can be for the pain and suffering in the seconds before a motor vehicle accident or the weeks, months, or years of pain and suffering endured after the occurrence of medical malpractice.
The monies recovered from this type of claim will be distributed to the decedent’s survivors pursuant to the decedent’s will or if the decedent died without a will, intestate, pursuant to the Intestacy statutes of the State of New Jersey.
Helping You Move Forward
At our firm, we are aware that this time in your life can be challenging, and without the assistance of an attorney, you could be facing a difficult legal battle. You deserve to be able to move forward with your life and honor your loved one without the burden of financial stress.
If you are looking to ensure that the liable parties involved in the death of your family member, are held responsible for your loss, contact Cerussi & Gunn, P.C. to discuss your case.