When a loved one dies because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, it can have devastating emotional and financial consequences. No amount of money can bring your loved one back, but you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. But can anyone who has experienced emotional trauma because of the wrongful death of another person seek damages in a court of law? If not, what are the requirements to qualify to file a wrongful death action?
In New Jersey, as in many states, a person must be considered a “real party in interest” in order to recover compensation for the accidental or wrongful death of another person. A real party in interest is further defined under state law to include only those who were either actually financially dependent on the deceased at the time of death or would have been entitled to an inheritance under state law.
As a general rule, a wrongful death action in New Jersey is filed by the executor or administrator of the estate on behalf of surviving family members. The individuals who qualify as plaintiffs in a wrongful death action include:
- A surviving spouse
- Surviving children or grandchildren
- Surviving parents
- Surviving siblings, nephews and nieces
- Anyone who can show actual financial dependence on the deceased
The law also establishes a hierarchy of claims. If there are surviving children and a surviving spouse, they have a right to sue. However, parents may only bring legal action if there is no surviving spouse and there are no surviving children. Nieces, nephews and siblings may only seek compensation if there were no surviving parents.
Contact the Law Offices of Gregg A. Wisotsky
I offer a free phone consultation to every prospective client. For a complimentary evaluation of your case, contact my office online or call me at 973-898-0161. I will come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary. All major credit cards are accepted.