Losing a loved one unexpectedly is, without question, traumatic and emotionally painful. When a loved one dies in an accident or in an incident that should never have happened in the first place, surviving family members often have feelings of anger and frustration over what happened. Add to that, worries about finances and how your family can move on without the support of your lost loved one.
For surviving members, you may have heard of wrongful death lawsuits and wonder how they work. While no amount of money can replace your loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit allows for compensation for the losses. An experienced wrongful death attorney can guide you and your family through the claims process and advise on who gets the money in a wrongful death lawsuit, which depends on the circumstance and your relation to the deceased.
What is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed when one person’s death occurs as the result of the negligence, reckless behavior, or violent behavior of another individual or entity. Wrongful death claims are similar to a personal injury case in which an individual can sue to recover damages like medical bills and lost income incurred because of an accident or illness. However, in the case of wrongful death, the estate of the injured person is filing the claim. Examples of situations that are common in wrongful death lawsuits include:
- Car Accidents
- Accidents at Commercial Entities or Other People’s Property
- Medical Malpractice
- Toxic Exposure
- Truck Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Construction Accidents
- Workplace Accidents
These scenarios are just examples. If the death of a loved one or family member was caused by the negligence of another, you may be able to bring a wrongful death claim.
Damages in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit depends on state law. In New Jersey, a wrongful death claim typically has two components - the wrongful death claim and the survival claim. The wrongful death lawsuit provides compensation for ‘economic’ damages like any medical bills associated with the accident or illness, funeral costs, and the lost income from the deceased person. The survival claim compensates for the deceased person’s pain and suffering endured from the time of the accident to their death. The way in which the compensation is distributed to the deceased person’s survivors is different for each of these components.
Who Gets the Money from a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
A wrongful death claim is usually filed by a representative of the estate of the deceased victim, on behalf of survivors who had a relationship with the victim. Exactly who those survivors can vary from state to state. Most often, spouses and children of the victim are the main recipients of the wrongful death compensation. However, in New Jersey, any relative that can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased person can file a claim and collect compensation, if awarded. A judge or court will typically make the final determination about the allocation of compensation.
In the survival claim, the estate would be awarded the damages. From there, the money would be distributed in accordance with the victim’s will. This is different from the wrongful death claim in which compensation distribution does not necessarily follow the allocations of the will.
How Much Does It Cost to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Wrongful death claims are complex and require proving negligence to be successful. An experienced wrongful death attorney can secure settlement amounts far greater than survivors going it alone. Personal injury lawyers usually work on a contingency basis, which means that they only charge a fee if the case or claim is won and a settlement is awarded. The attorney fees are then taken out of the final settlement amount.
Brandon J. Broderick, New York and New Jersey Wrongful Death Attorneys
Are you considering talking to an attorney about a possible wrongful death claim? At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, we approach every case with compassion and empathy. Contact us today for a free consultation. With our proven track record of success, we can get you the justice you deserve.