Serving Families and Individuals Throughout New York and New Jersey
It is all the more devastating when your loved one’s death is the result of another person’s negligence, misconduct, or malice.
When this occurs, the law allows you to sue the person or entity responsible for wrongful death. Such legal recourse is designed to compensate survivors for their tremendous financial, physical, and emotional loss. Wrongful death charges are often pursued when criminal charges have either not been filed against the responsible party or have not resulted in a guilty verdict.
If you have had the terrible misfortune of losing a loved one to wrongful death, the law provides you with the opportunity to receive compensation for all you have been deprived of, as well as for the financial support and security you have lost. At such a time of grief and turmoil, you need a dedicated personal injury attorney to fight for you. Our practice has a well-deserved reputation for compassion as well as skill, and we have won some of the most substantial damages ever awarded in New York and New Jersey. Why not let us help you in your time of need? When you come to Nagel Rice, you can be sure that while we are aggressive negotiators and litigators, we are also caring individuals who never forget to treat you and your family with the sensitivity and respect you deserve.
Examples of Wrongful Death Claims
In some cases, wrongful death claims are brought because a person or entity in a position of trust has failed to adequately protect the victim. Such cases might involve a teacher, coach, camp counselor, therapist or personal trainer, and/or the school, camp, gym or another facility that employed that person. Other wrongful death claims may be brought against any of the following individuals and/or entities that have caused a death through:
- Medical Malpractice
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or driving recklessly
- Poorly designed or constructed buildings or structures
- Improper, dangerous repairs on homes or public buildings
- Manufacture, distribution, or sale of defective products, contaminated foods or drugs
- Making alcohol or illegal drugs available to someone who died as a result
- Violating Social Host Laws (allowing underage drinking or use of illegal drugs by minors)
- Failing to supervise or protect the public (this is applicable to government agencies)
- Criminal negligence or malice, even if found not guilty in a court of law
It should be noted that there are some circumstances involving government employees or agencies in which the law provides immunity to wrongful death lawsuits, for example when police following appropriate protocol as they make arrests.
Who Is Permitted To File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Jersey and New York?
In New York, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative (executor) of the beneficiaries of the deceased; if the deceased individual did not name such a person, the court will appoint one. In New Jersey, a wrongful death claim may be filed by either a personal representative or by the beneficiaries directly. In both states, the beneficiaries of the deceased are considered, first and foremost, to be the spouse and offspring (children and grandchildren) of the deceased person, then surviving parents of the deceased person, and finally any surviving siblings, nieces, and nephews. The court will also consider anyone who can prove financial dependence on the deceased (e.g. an elderly grandparent) or being a beneficiary of the estate.
What damages can you be awarded if you win your wrongful death case?
In both New York and New Jersey, wrongful death claims are civil claims, awarding only money damages without criminal charges. This means that although you may win substantial monetary compensation for your loss, the person you make the claim against will not have to suffer incarceration, probation or other non-economic penalties. It also means that a civil wrongful death claim may be filed at the same time a criminal charge is being filed by a prosecuting attorney. These two actions are considered separate legal matters.
What damages can you be awarded for wrongful death in New York and New Jersey?
In both states, if your personal injury attorney makes a successful case for your wrongful death claim, you are entitled to damages to cover:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical and other healthcare expenses related to the decedent’s final illness or injury
- Wages and benefits lost between the final injury or illness and the death
- Support and services lost to family members going forward
- Valuation of parental nurturing, care and guidance to surviving children
- Lost inheritance calculated based on income at time of death
- Conscious pain and suffering endured by the deceased prior to death
In New York, surviving family members are not entitled to recover damages for their own pain and suffering, even if the deceased person is a child. Moreover, while the parents may recover lost value of household chores, this amount will be reduced by the predicted reasonable cost of caring for the child until he or she reaches adulthood. Nonetheless, in New York, punitive damages, though rare, are sometimes awarded, typically when the defendant’s conduct is determined to be intentional and malicious, such as in an assault or incident of DUI or road rage.
In New Jersey, if your attorney wins your wrongful death case, you may, in addition to the aforementioned damages, be able to file a separate claim if you were present when the death occurred and suffered severe distress as a result. This is true even though New Jersey does not allow for punitive damages per se in wrongful death cases.
Time Limits for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Wrongful death claims in both New York and New Jersey must be filed within 2 years of the death of the deceased.
Why Nagel Rice LLP Is the Place to Come To File a Wrongful Death Suit
Dealing with the death of a loved one is stressful as well as painful because there are details and familial obligations to be handled at the very time when you feel least capable of handling them. Add legal complexities to the mix and you are likely to feel totally overwhelmed. At Nagel Rice, we know that you need time to grieve and begin to heal from your terrible ordeal and we have the experience and in-depth knowledge to lift the burden from you and handle all legal matters related to your wrongful death suit. We are dedicated to obtaining the highest damages possible for you and your family, and you should be relieved to know that we won’t charge you an attorney fee unless we win your case. You can get in touch with either of our two offices by phone or by filling out a contact form on our website.