Can you file a wrongful death suit against a jailed criminal?

Few things are as hard to cope with as the abrupt death of someone you love. Regardless of how your loss occurred, bringing the responsible party to justice is likely your top goal.

When the death occurred during the commission of a crime, you can still file a wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey. However, it is wise to make sure it is worth the time, effort and emotional distress to pursue the matter.

An example to consider

Say that your son was shopping at a Toms River, New Jersey, convenience store when a robbery occurred. Unfortunately, gunfire erupted, and your son died during the crime. The authorities captured and arrested the responsible party.

Although the defendant now faces severe charges and a possible criminal conviction, you can still initiate a wrongful death lawsuit. Such a lawsuit is a civil matter, meaning you can pursue justice even if the other party is in jail or prison.

However, since the person that caused the death was committing a crime, they probably do not have any money to pay the damages you win. In such a situation, filing a wrongful death claim will probably cost more money than you can recover.

Another example to consider

Say that your husband was driving home when a Porsche driven by a drunken doctor collided with your spouse, resulting in immediate death. Logically, the doctor will face criminal charges and a possible arrest for their role in the death of your spouse.

In this situation, it makes sense to pursue a lawsuit because the defendant likely has the funds to pay any damages you win. Even though it is not about monetary gain for most, filing a suit ensures the party is held accountable for their negligent actions.

If you are not sure if you should pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, discussing the particulars of your situation with an experienced professional and learning more about your rights may be able to provide some clarity. 

FindLaw Network

View All
Practice areas