If your loved one died in a car accident, you probably want answers and you want them as fast as possible. How did the accident happen? Who was at fault? Was the other driver drunk? Could the accident have been prevented?
These questions, and many more, will be plaguing your mind, as you struggle emotionally to come to grips with the loss of your loved one. You may also be wondering about the answers to these four questions:
1. Can I file a wrongful death claim?
As you find answers to the many questions on your mind, you'll eventually land on a very important one from a legal perspective: Can you file a wrongful death claim? If you were a close relative or a financial dependent of the deceased; if the fatal accident was caused by another party due to wrongful action, negligence or criminal activity; and you can prove the person's fault and responsibility in court, then you might be able to pursue such a claim.
2. Can I seek punitive damages?
Punitive damages are extra damages that courts award in cases where the at-fault party was extremely negligent or grossly blatant in committing the actions (or inactions) that caused the death. In these situation, a court could force the at-fault party to pay extra money as punishment.
3. Do all states have the same wrongful death laws?
Every state has its own laws that will apply to a wrongful death action. As such, the law could change depending on the state in which the wrongful death occurred. Certain states, for example, have damage caps. Also, different states will give plaintiffs shorter or longer periods of time within which they must file their action.
4. What if my deceased loved one never earned money in a job?
Earnings, and projected future earnings, will play a major factor in determining how much money family members can receive in compensation for their loved one's wrongful death. However, financial earnings alone are not the only way courts have of establishing an amount to compensate surviving family members. Courts will also place value on family relationship, emotional support, childcare and household services, guidance and nurturing, and other relationships-based benefits.
Learn as much as you can about New Jersey wrongful death laws
The more you know about wrongful death laws in New Jersey, the better you'll be able to evaluate your family's potential claim for damages. This knowledge will also help you to appropriately prepare and file your claim.