The state’s statutes control wrongful death claims brought before the civil court system. The statute of limitations, in particular, is the time limit set for a person to pursue legal action against the party that they are in a dispute with. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in New Jersey is usually two years, but an attorney can advise you of exceptions.
In this article, we’ll look at several important aspects of New Jersey’s wrongful death statutes, starting with an illustration of a wrongful death lawsuit, what the deadline is for submitting a wrongful death claim, how a wrongful death settlement is divided, and the types of damages that may be awarded if a claim is successful.
What Classifies as a Wrongful Death Case in New Jersey?
A “wrongful death” in New Jersey is one that was “induced by a wrongful act, negligence, or default,” according to New Jersey Statute 2A:31-1 (2021). Simply put, a wrongful death happens when someone passes away as a result of the misconduct or negligence of another person or organization, such as:
- Vehicle accident
- Medical malpractice
- Criminal action
The circumstances that led to the victim’s death must have been such that, had the victim been alive, they could have brought a personal injury claim. It may be appropriate to consider wrongful death cases as personal injury lawsuits in which the wounded party can no longer file a lawsuit on their own behalf, so the claim must instead be made on behalf of the deceased person by their estate or loved ones.
What Is the Legal Deadline for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New Jersey?
The statute of limitations for New Jersey wrongful death claims is two years from the date of the decedent’s passing. Like all lawsuits, your inability to file your case by the deadline could completely lead to the dismissal of your dispute. If you miss the two-year window, you may relinquish your rights to seek financial restitution from the opposing party.
Are There Any Exceptions to New Jersey’s Statute of Limitations?
The two-year statute of limitations may be exempt in several circumstances. For instance, the statute of limitations clock starts to run when the mourning party turns 18 if they were a juvenile at the time of the loss.
It is crucial to contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible to discuss any potential exceptions to New Jersey’s wrongful death case filing deadline.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Suit in New Jersey?
The surviving family members of the deceased may bring a wrongful death claim in various states. However, in New Jersey, a wrongful death claim must be filed by the personal representative (sometimes known as the “executor”) of the decedent’s estate.
New Jersey Statute 2A:31-2 (2021) states that in the absence of a will designating a personal representative, the court will appoint an administrator with the authority to launch the action.
For the decedent’s surviving family members to be awarded compensation, a personal representative or administrator must file the wrongful death case by New Jersey’s statute of limitations deadline.
What Losses Can be Recovered in a New Jersey Wrongful Death Claim?
When a wrongful death lawsuit in New Jersey is granted, the judge orders the defendant to compensate the surviving family members for the plaintiff’s alleged losses. The average damages in a wrongful death action are meant to cover losses such as:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of financial support, both current wages and future income projections
- Loss of parental guidance or companionship
A wrongful death lawsuit would look to recover damages for the loss of important household services like childcare and home management if your loved one was the primary caregiver and did not have a job outside the home. Additional conditions for wrongful death compensation disbursements can be clarified by consulting a reputable New Jersey accidental death attorney.
Can a Wrongful Death Claim be Filed for Murder?
It is beneficial to speak with a personal injury attorney to find out if New Jersey has a statute of limitations for wrongful death caused by a criminal act like manslaughter or murder. A claim may be possible without the standard two-year restriction since criminal convictions can take an extended amount of time.
Preparation to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The process of filing a wrongful death lawsuit may be too challenging to take on while your grief is new, so retaining legal help may prevent you from reliving the details of your loved one’s passing. If you feel that you have enough knowledge and are ready to pursue legal compensation, the following steps are necessary:
- Consult with a wrongful death attorney about rules, deadlines, and then investigation of the decedent’s death.
- Obtain a death certificate that clearly states the cause of death. It can be obtained from the county clerk’s office or online on the State of New Jersey Department of Health website.
- Assess if a will was left that identifies the administrator or if the courts will assign a personal representative.
- Compile a list of losses your family has endured since the victim’s untimely death. This list will help your attorney to obtain the maximum amount possible for a wrongful death case.
Reasons to Contact a New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawyer
During this tough time, you and your family need guidance on how to navigate through the legal process of filing a wrongful death claim. Go with a New Jersey wrongful death attorney that is knowledgeable and can provide empathetic and compassionate legal support.
New Jersey’s wrongful death statute of limitations approaches quickly, so it’s in your best interest to file as soon as possible. A skilled personal injury law firm can help you file a wrongful death suit on the following grounds:
- Car accidents
- Work-related deaths
- Truck wrecks
- Bike and pedestrian incidents
- Fatal injuries from using a defective product
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Premise liability accidents
There is a wide range of accidents that can cause fatal injuries. In the event of a loved one passing due to their injuries, seeking the legal advice of a reputable wrongful death lawyer in New Jersey can provide you and your family with guided closure and financial relief.