When someone in New Jersey dies due to negligence or misconduct, the death is a tragedy. The devastating emotional effects are also accompanied by practical losses; family members will have to survive without a loved one's income and their standard of living may change considerably as a result. Therefore, the surviving family members may bring a lawsuit against those responsible for the wrongful death in order to recover some of the damages suffered as a result.
The people entitled to file a lawsuit are the same people who could receive personal property from the victim if he or she died without a will. In general, these include a surviving spouse, children and, in some cases, parents or siblings. Under New Jersey law, if both a spouse and children survive the victim, they can recover equal proportions of a judgment. In some cases, the court may decide to grant specific amounts to the victim's dependents considering their future needs, such as educational costs or health care expenses.
The decision about the amount of damages assessed in a wrongful death action is made by a jury. The jury bases its decision on the financial injuries occurring from the death as well as the practical costs involved. These include the medical and hospital expenses for the victim's treatment and funeral expenses incurred by the victim's family.
Someone who has lost a loved one due to another's actions may find that financial compensation does not make up for the tragedy. However, damages in a wrongful death lawsuit can provide some protection from the severe financial consequences of such a loss. A personal injury lawyer can help family members seek accountability for the death of a relative.