When someone’s negligence causes another’s death, the victim’s surviving family may be entitled to recover compensation under New Jersey’s wrongful death laws. Among other issues, these dictate who is entitled to recover damages in a claim. A survival action claim may be on behalf of the deceased who started a personal injury claim prior to death.
Who is entitled to the recovery of damages in a wrongful death claim?
Per New Jersey’s wrongful death laws, spouses, children and parents (in that order) are typically eligible to recover compensation through a claim. However, the dynamics of a family can impact how this plays out.
Priority is always given to a spouse, who receives everything when there are no children or parents. If there are children, the amount available will depend on whether the children belong to the surviving spouse. When they don’t, the spouse gets half of the estate. The rest is distributed evenly amongst the children.
If the children belong to the spouse, the spouse receives the first $50,000 in damages plus half of the remaining balance. The remaining amount is divided equally between the children. This is the same formula used with a spouse who has no children but there are parents. So the remaining amount of the estate would be distributed evenly between the parents.
When there is no spouse or children, the parents divide the settlement. And if there is no spouse, children or parents, then siblings would be entitled to the monies.
What happens if a loved one filed an injury claim before passing?
It’s important to note that a wrongful death claim is different than a survival action claim. When no legal action is taken until after the person has passed, eligible surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death claim. But if the victim started a legal action before passing, a survival action claim can be filed.
One of the most significant differences is the types of compensation recoverable. In a wrongful death case, damages pertain to losses or expenses experienced by surviving family members. They take into account the pecuniary losses experienced by those eligible to recover compensation, as well as any funeral expenses, medical costs, and other losses related to the victim’s death.
A survival action claim accounts for the time period between the victim’s accident or event that caused injury and the victim’s death. In addition to loss of earnings and medical expenses, a survival action may also include the victim’s pain and suffering until the time of death.
Speak to a Lawyer about a Wrongful Death or Survival Action Claim
To learn more about the impact of New Jersey’s wrongful death laws, contact an attorney who is familiar with these types of cases. At Cordisco & Saile LLC, we assist clients who wish to file a claim and can help determine the types of compensation that surviving family members can seek.