The 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:
- Car Accident
- Truck Accident
- Motorcycle Accident
- DWI Accident
- Train Wreck Accident
- Burn Injury Accident
- Product Liability Accident Involving a Defective Product or Dangerous Drug
- Construction Site Accident
- Scaffolding Accident
- Nursing Home Accident
- Medical Malpractice Caused by Surgical Error, Medication Error or Failure to Diagnose Cancer
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:
- Justia, NJ Rev Stat §2A:31-3 (2014), https://law.justia.com/codes/new-jersey/2014/title-2a/section-2a-31-3/
- NYCourts.gov, Statute of Limitations, https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/GoingToCourt/SOLchart.shtml
Navigating A Wrongful Death Case
The loss of a loved one can be emotionally difficult and devastating for everyone who knows the victim, and when the loss is caused by negligence it can be even more tough to get through, as New York and New Jersey wrongful death lawyers know. Wrongful death claims are legal actions pursued by the surviving family members of the deceased to seek compensation for their loss. However, navigating these claims can be complex, and there are common mistakes that one must avoid to ensure a successful outcome.
Common Mistakes in a Wrongful Death Claim
In the midst of grief and confusion, it’s easy to make errors while pursuing a wrongful death claim. One of the most common mistakes is not gathering sufficient evidence to support the claim. Proper documentation, witness statements, and expert opinions are crucial to build a strong case. Another pitfall is waiting too long to file the claim, as there is a statute of limitations that varies by jurisdiction. It is wise to consult with experienced wrongful death lawyers who can help you avoid these delays. Accepting an early settlement without understanding the full extent of the damages can be detrimental to the family’s long-term well-being. Engaging in negotiations with insurance companies without legal representation may lead to undervaluing the claim. Therefore, seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney is essential to avoid these pitfalls and protect your rights.
Parties Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim
The eligibility to file a wrongful death claim varies from state to state, but in general, immediate family members such as spouses, children, and parents are given priority. These individuals suffer the most significant loss due to the death of their loved one. Depending on the circumstances, other parties, such as domestic or life partners, financial dependents, and distant family members, may also have the right to file a claim. It is essential to get the advice of a lawyer who has knowledge of the eligibility requirements based on your state laws.
What Does Not Qualify as Wrongful Death
Though many wrongful deaths arise from tragic situations, not every sudden death qualifies as a wrongful death. Wrongful death claims are specifically intended to address cases where the death occurred due to negligence, recklessness, or intentional harm by another party. For instance, if a person passes away due to natural causes or an unfortunate accident with no one at fault, it may not be considered a wrongful death case. If the deceased was the sole cause of their own death, a wrongful death claim might not be applicable. Consulting with an attorney can help determine whether your situation qualifies for a wrongful death claim or not.
When to Hire a Wrongful Death Lawyer
Going through a legal claim and the complexities that come with it can be overwhelming to think about. However, hiring a wrongful death lawyer is often the best course of action to ensure your rights are protected and to maximize your chances of a fair settlement. If you believe the death of your family member resulted from someone else’s actions or negligence, it is crucial to contact an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled wrongful death lawyer will provide invaluable support throughout the legal process, offering guidance, collecting evidence, and negotiating on your behalf. By engaging a legal professional, you can focus on grieving and healing while knowing that your case is in capable hands.
Find Legal Help Right Away
Wrongful death claims are emotionally charged and legally intricate matters that require careful consideration and expert guidance. Avoiding common mistakes, understanding who can file a claim, and recognizing the situations that qualify for wrongful death are all crucial steps to navigate the legal process successfully. By consulting with an experienced wrongful death attorney, you can seek the justice and compensation you and your family deserve during this difficult time. Consult with a competent and experienced wrongful death lawyer from Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. if you have questions about how to file a claim.