When someone dies in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, surviving loved ones are left to not only deal with their grief but also financial strain as the losses and expenses mount. In cases of negligence, the surviving loved ones may be able to pursue legal action which can include a wrongful death and survival claim. In this blog post, we lay out what wrongful death and survival action claims are and how they differ.
Wrongful Death Claims
A wrongful death claim is intended to provide compensation for the losses you incurred as a result of your loved one’s death. Every state has different laws about who can file a wrongful death claim. In New Jersey, the executor or administrator of the estate must file the claim on behalf of the following survivors:
- Children, including adult children
- Nieces and nephews
- Other relatives or friends who can prove they were financially reliant on the deceased victim
If there are many survivors the court may determine a hierarchy for the beneficiaries. Usually the spouse and children are first in line, followed by parents of unmarried, childless victims and then other dependent relatives. If compensation is awarded in a wrongful death claim, it is awarded to the beneficiaries and is not subject to creditor claims on the deceased person’s estate.
Wrongful Death Damages
A wrongful death claim is filed against the negligent who caused the accidental death. In this claim, the survivors seek compensation for the losses they would not have suffered if their loved one did not die. Damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey may include:
- Hospital and medical expenses related to accident
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Lost income and loss of deceased person’s expected lifetime income
- Lost health and insurance benefits
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of parental guidance
If your loved one did not work outside the home and/or was the primary caregiver, a wrongful death claim will seek compensation for the loss of valuable household services such as childcare and managing the home.
In a wrongful death lawsuit, family members seek compensation for losses incurred because of the loved one’s death. A survival action seeks compensation on behalf of the victim for the time period between the accident and the time of death. If the victim had survived, he or she could file a personal injury claim to recoup losses from medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. Because the victim ultimately dies, the estate of the deceased may file a survival action claim.
Take the example of a motorcycle rider hit by a drunk driver. In this example, the victim could suffer serious injuries and be in grave condition at a hospital for a period of time before passing away. A survival claim seeks compensation for the medical expenses and lost wages associated with this time as well as the conscious pain and suffering endured by the victim.
Unlike a wrongful death claim, the beneficiaries for a survival claim follow the instructions of the will, or probate court in the event the deceased did not have a will. Because survival claims intend to compensate the victim, the deceased estate receives the compensation for these claims.
Brandon J. Broderick, New York and New Jersey Wrongful Death Attorneys
Are you considering talking to a lawyer about a possible wrongful death claim? At Brandon J Broderick, Attorney at Law, our attorneys 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.