When people in New Jersey lose their lives due to someone else's wrongdoing or negligence, their surviving family members have the grounds for a wrongful death claim. A wrongful death lawsuit allows family members to recover financially for the loss of their loved one. While the person who lost his or her life may have left behind a will to distribute assets to beneficiaries, the proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit are distributed according to the state's intestacy laws, as if the person had passed away without a will.
Only people with a certain level of familial relationship are entitled to bring a wrongful death claim. The amount of damages they can claim is covered in state law. If a person was married but had no living parents or children, the full amount will go to the spouse. On the other hand, if the person had both a spouse and children, the spouse would receive the first $50,000 and one-half of the balance, while the children would receive the other half. If the children were not also the spouse's, though, the spouse would receive one-half and the other half would be divided among the children.
If the parents are alive, the spouse would take the first $50,000 and one-half of the remainder, and the parents would receive the other half. On the other hand, if the person had children but no spouse, the amount would be divided equally among children. If the person had living parents but no spouse or children, the parents would receive equal shares.
In the case of a person with no living parents, the person's brothers and sisters could claim the compensation. People who have lost a loved one due to someone else's negligence or misconduct can consult with a personal injury attorney about pursuing a wrongful death claim.