What is the difference between a wrongful death and a wrongful life case?

By Greg Kohn

Wrongful death and wrongful life cases are often challenging cases for both clients and attorneys. These types of cases can often be emotionally charged and deal with controversial issues, but they are not often understood by those who have not been directly involved in such a case. Today we are breaking down the differences between wrongful death and wrongful life cases.

What Is A Wrongful Death Case?

A wrongful death case usually arises after a criminal trial where someone is killed due to the “negligence or misconduct of another.” New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Act and Survival Statute says those who are connected to a deceased’s estate have a case to claim legal remedy.

New Jersey law says a wrongful death claim can only result in the recovery of financial losses. Wrongful death claims cannot result in compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress. However, there are some exceptions if someone actually witnessed the death of their loved one.

A wrongful death lawsuit can result in damages for

1. Loss of income, which is usually calculated by an economist, and incorporates the average income of the victim and any sort of taxes and other expenses.

2. Loss of services, which is a calculation of the economic value of the victim in terms of any guidance or training they provided.

3. Funeral & medical expenses, which are calculated through bills.

The statue of limitations in New Jersey is generally two years. Collecting the evidence and investigating the details for a wrongful death case usually takes an immense amount of time, so it is important to work with an experienced trial and personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

What Is A Wrongful Life Case?

Wrongful life cases are sometimes filed after a child has birth defects due to a negligent diagnosis.

Generally, the cases are built around disabilities like cystic fibrosis or spina bifida, which can be detected before birth via blood tests or ultrasound.

A wrongful life claim usually centers around the idea that a medical provider did not disclose an injury or disability to other healthcare providers and or did not properly inform the parents, and thus did not give the parents an ability to abort. Sometimes, problems can also arise due to errors in the laboratory or inadequate genetic counseling.

These cases are usually controversial and can be hard to win because they can be difficult to prove. It is usually hard for a court to decide on compensation. Some states do not recognize wrongful life cases, and many courts would argue that a child who is disabled but alive is better than if the same child were dead.

However, many states do allow cases of wrongful birth. This allows parents to sue for the “emotional distress associated with having a child with severe defects,” since raising a child with disabilities can be very expensive.

Trial and personal injury attorneys who are experienced in both types of cases will be able to give you compassionate representation as they use their legal resources to build an objective lawsuit.

Trust The Personal injury Experts

Wrongful death and wrongful life cases can have lifelong implications. The experienced attorneys at Nagel Rice, LLP have a track record of success in obtaining just compensation for their personal injury clients. Contact us today for a consultation.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.