Frequently Asked Questions about Wrongful Death Cases

September 8, 2019

  1. What is a wrongful death?

A wrongful death is a death that results from the negligence or misconduct of an individual. Following a wrongful death, surviving family members may bring a wrongful death claim to recover damages resulting from the loss of the deceased.

  1. What damages can be recovered in a wrongful death case?

Those who file New Jersey wrongful death cases may be eligible to recover damages including: expenses arising from the death, such as reasonable funeral costs and medical costs; general damages; loss of benefits, such as medical insurance and pensions; loss of companionship, care and protection; loss of future earnings calculated over a lifetime; pain, suffering and mental anguish; and punitive damages

  1. Who can file a wrongful death claim?

Parents, spouses and children may file a wrongful death claim. In some situations, grandparents may also be able to file a claim.

  1. Is there a time limit on wrongful death cases?

In New Jersey, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the date of death. If this time limit expires, you may no longer be eligible for damages.

  1. Are punitive damages available in wrongful death cases?

In New Jersey, punitive damages may be recovered for willful or overly reckless conduct.

  1. Can wrongful death claims be filed on behalf of someone who has never held a job?

Yes. While the deceased individual may not have held a job, he or she may have contributed to the family in another way, such as offering emotional support.

  1. What are the most common causes of wrongful death?

In New Jersey, wrongful death cases most commonly arise from auto accidents, airplane accidents, medical malpractice, defective products and workplace accidents.

  1. What is the difference between the civil and criminal cases that can be brought regarding a death?

In criminal cases, the government prosecutes an individual for an act that is deemed a crime in the jurisdiction it was committed. The burden of proof in criminal cases is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which means that a guilty verdict is issued if, and only if, there is no plausible reason to believe that the defendant is innocent of the charge.  Penalties in criminal cases include imprisonment and, in some states, death. Civil cases, on the other hand, involve disputes between individuals over duties legally owed.  The burden of proof in civil cases is significantly lower and known as “a preponderance of evidence.” This means that if a proposition is more probable than not, judgment will be for the plaintiff. Punishment in civil cases, such as wrongful death, is generally monetary.

To learn more about filing a wrongful death claim, contact the Law Offices of Curt J. Geisler today at (973) 772-8289.

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