Personal injury claims in New Jersey can vary widely regarding severity and circumstances, and a wrongful death claim is indeed the most serious of all personal injuries. However, the dynamics of a wrongful death claim can differ significantly from a typical personal injury issue. Many wrongful death claims will actually be accompanied by a personal injury claim as well when the victim suffered before eventually succumbing to the injuries. Details matter significantly in a wrongful death case, and it is imperative to have aggressive and experienced legal counsel when pursuing wrongful death damages.
Eligibility to file wrongful death claims in New Jersey
New Jersey is one of several states that allows survivors of a decedent to file damage claims against a negligent party under certain conditions. Some states restrict this standing to file following fatal motor vehicle accidents only to the estate of the decedent. Those who can file a survival action begin with the legal spouse and any dependent children, but can extend to other family members absent a spouse or dependent children.
Grounds for filing
Merely proving to be a dependent of the deceased victim is sometimes not enough evidence to justify a wrongful death claim. The plaintiff must prove beyond dependency that the respondent owed a reasonable duty of care to the decedent and was negligent in providing that responsibility. Problems plaintiffs may experience in filing the claim can also include any level of comparative negligence that may apply to the decedent, especially in fatal motor vehicle accidents.
It is important for all survivors of accident victims to understand state law when these complicated and highly contested claims are evaluated. New Jersey uses a special shared fault law that requires those who are at least 60% responsible for causing an accident to pay whole damages in most situations when plaintiff attorneys are successful in proving gross negligence against the defendant.