Wrongful Death of a Loved One

Photo of grieving sisters at a cemeteryThe untimely death of a loved one can easily be a family’s worst nightmare. Amid the emotional pain, there are often medical and funeral bills to take care of, income and family services to replace, and a new routine to establish. When the death is someone else’s fault – whether it was intentionally caused or the result of carelessness – then the pain can be intensified further by questions of “what if?”

When a loved one’s death was what is known as a “wrongful death”, know that there is legal recourse against the parties who are at fault. Recovering a wrongful death settlement will not bring back a cherished family member, but it will help minimize some of the financial ill-effects of the tragedy and bring a sense of closure.

The wrongful death lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. have witnessed first-hand the effects that wrongful death has on family. We advocate for the rights of individuals and families across New Jersey and New York from our full-service law offices in Bergen County and Rockland County.

Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit?

State laws determine certain aspects of wrongful death lawsuits, including who may bring a claim.

In New Jersey, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by the executor or personal representative of the estate. Any proceeds recovered are then to be distributed to the victim’s surviving family members. The first in line are those family members who actually depended upon the victim at the time of death. The next priority is those who were entitled to inherit from the victim under state law.

In New York, a wrongful death claim can only be filed by the personal representative of the victim’s estate. The lawsuit may bring claims of both the estate and the surviving heirs, and the personal representative holds the proceeds as if in trust for the survivors.

The role of a wrongful death attorney

A wrongful death lawyer acts as both a professional representative and an emotional support. Pursuing a wrongful death claim can be stressful for survivors, but a skilled and compassionate attorney will help you work through the emotional distress and give sound legal advice in the process.

KGG wrongful death attorneys are here to help you. We will listen carefully to the details of your case and advise you on the best way to proceed.

Wrongful death statute of limitations

The statute of limitations – the time period that a plaintiff has to bring a lawsuit – is also determined by state law. In both New York and New Jersey, the statute of limitations is two years. But there a couple of things to note:

  • In New Jersey, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit after two years if the wrongful death was a murder or manslaughter.
  • For other types of claims, the statute of limitations can be extended when a plaintiff is a minor or incapacitated, but this does not apply in a NY or NJ wrongful death claim.

What is a wrongful death?

Wrongful death is a very broad category that encompasses many types of unfortunate accidents. The connecting thread is that in each situation, someone – whether an individual, a business, or even a government entity – breached some duty and that breach led to grave consequences.

The team at KGG has seen first-hand the effects that a wrongful death has on the surviving family. We have successfully pursued wrongful death claims arising in a number of situations including:

What is needed to file wrongful death lawsuits

To file a wrongful death lawsuit, a plaintiff needs to be able to pinpoint who owed a duty to the decedent and how they breached that duty. Often there are multiple potentially liable parties, and each will point the finger at another. That is where we come in – we expertly investigate the facts surrounding the case. We find out who dropped the ball and build a tight case that proves it.

Proving the case often requires coordination with experts. KGG wrongful death attorneys work with investigators, doctors, engineers, and other professionals who can help a judge and jury understand your claim.

What is included in wrongful death settlements

Like who can bring a wrongful death case, what is included in a wrongful death settlement is determined by state law.

In both New York and New Jersey, compensation can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral costs
  • Lost wages
  • Lost benefits
  • Loss of consortium or companionship

New York and New Jersey differ when it comes to emotional distress, which understandably plays a large role in most wrongful death cases.

In New York, the surviving heirs may include their claim for emotional distress in the wrongful death suit. In New Jersey, however, surviving family cannot recover for emotional distress or punitive damages in a wrongful death case; they may file a separate claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Put your trust in compassionate and skilled wrongful death lawyers

For decades, KGG lawyers have fought for the rights of the families victimized by wrongful death. Experienced and caring wrongful death attorney Barry S. Kantrowitz and his team aggressively pursue our clients’ interests, while showing sensitivity to their emotions at a difficult time.

We treat our clients with compassion while getting results from responsible parties. We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients in wrongful death lawsuits. Call today to schedule a free confidential consultation.

Additional Wrongful Death Law Firm Resources:

  1. Justia, NJ Rev Stat §2A:31-3 (2014), https://law.justia.com/codes/new-jersey/2014/title-2a/section-2a-31-3/
  2. NYCourts.gov, Statute of Limitations, https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/GoingToCourt/SOLchart.shtml