After the untimely loss of a loved one, a wrongful death lawsuit can:
- Make public the negligence that caused your loved one’s death
- Provide much-needed compensation to meet financial obligations that the deceased person would have covered
- Provide a sense of closure
The following are four questions we often receive about wrongful death lawsuits.
What is wrongful death?
A wrongful death is a death caused by the negligent or intentional wrongful act of another. The wrongful act may be something actively done or an omission.
A wrongful death can arise from many situations, including car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, or even bar fights. In each context, the question will be whether the defendant breached a duty to the deceased person which caused the death. However, the duty will depend on the situation, so it is helpful to work with a wrongful death attorney who has experience with the type of case you are facing.
What is a wrongful death claim?
A wrongful death may give rise to a wrongful death claim – the legal right to bring a lawsuit. These lawsuits assert the rights of those left behind by the death, who are seeking money compensation to cover medical bills, funeral expenses, and other incurred costs, as well as the loss of their loved one’s financial and emotional support.
A wrongful death claim is not the same as a survivor action, which raises claims that the deceased person would have had the right to file. A survivor claim includes the pain and suffering he or she experienced before death and, like with wrongful death claims, state statutes determine who can raise it and how an award can be distributed.
Who can file a wrongful death claim?
State statutes dictate who has the right to file a wrongful death claim. For example, in New Jersey, a wrongful death claim may be filed by the executor of the estate or, if the person died without a will, by the Administrator ad Prosequendum. The award is distributed according to the order of the judge, usually going to the dependents.
In New York, the story is slightly different, and only immediate family members like a spouse, children, or parents are eligible under the law to file a wrongful death claim, and the lawsuit proceeds are distributed to the family as dictated by state law.
When must a wrongful death case be filed?
Each state has its own laws determining how long you havee to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations places deadlines on when lawsuits must be filed. In both New York and New Jersey, the general statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of death. However, exceptions can alter this, so it is important to discuss your filing deadline with an experienced wrongful death lawyer.
Get personalized answers to your wrongful death lawsuit questions
When you have undergone the painful loss of a loved one, your experience is unique. Talk to a lawyer who will take a personalized approach to make sure your story is heard through your lawsuit.
An experienced wrongful death lawyer at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman is here to review your claim and determine if you have a viable case. Consultations are always free and confidential. Call today in Rockland County and Bergen County.