There is no greater loss than the death of a loved one. And there can be no greater honor than to have the trust of a family that needs answers. We understand the long term effects that a accidental death will have on a family and we know the stakes are high. There is no margin for error in holding those accountable for your losses. We promise to find out what went wrong.
Representing families that have lost their loved ones requires experience, tenacity, and talent. Our team of talented and compassionate lawyers know how to get the job done. We have an outstanding track record of success, we care about our clients and will fight for you the same way we would fight for members of our own family. Until the end! Until it’s right.
What is The Wrongful Death and Survival Act?
Every state in the country has enacted a Wrongful Death Act and Survival Act to protect victims whose lives are lost from negligent and careless acts. The Survival Act allows recovery of damages from the time of the harm until death. The Wrongful Death Act allows the heirs to recover damages and losses inflicted upon them because of the death of their loved one. Unfortunately, all states view damages recoverable from death differently. Some states allow more and some less. Below are some answers to questions you may have about New Jersey’s Wrongful Death and Survival Act.
What Damages Are Recoverable Under The Survival Act?
In New Jersey, the survival action allows recovery for the deceased person’s injuries from the time of the incident until death. These damages may include:
- Conscious pain and suffering
- Medical bills up until death
- lost wages from the time of injury up until death
- Punitive damages may also be recoverable depending on the case
Any proceeds recoverable under this part of the case will get distributed to the heirs in accordance with the deceased person’s will. If there is no will, there is a law which determines how much each heir can recover.
What Damages Are Recoverable Under The Wrongful Death Act?
The wrongful death action is the part of the case that allows the surviving family members to recover for their losses that are associated with the death. These losses typically include the economic value of the loss of guidance, advice, and support as well as lost companionship and security. Lost wages are also recoverable. However, the mental anguish for losing a loved one is not recoverable under New Jersey law. Some examples of these economic losses are:
- Lost earnings and wages of the deceased person
- Lost care, guidance, advice and support
- Lost inheritance in some states
- Funeral expenses
- Hospital expenses incurred before death
- Lost companionship
- Lost value of household chores
- NOT RECOVERABLE: emotional grief, mental anguish, for losing a loved one
Who Can File A Wrongful Death Act and Survival Act Lawsuit in NJ?
The Survivor Act claim (pain and suffering of the decedent) is brought by the Executor if a person dies with a Last Will or the General Administrator of the Estate if a person dies without a Last Will.
The person authorized to bring the Wrongful Death claim is the Executor if the person died with a will or the Administrator ad Prosequendum if the person died without a will.
How Do You Get Appointed General Administrator?
Every County has its own rules on how to apply for Administration if your loved one died without a Last Will. We will guide you through the application process and assist every step of the way. The part of the court system that deals with appointing Administrators is called the Surrogate. The Surrogate’s office is usually located in or next to the county courthouse. In general, the spouse of a deceased person typically has the first right to be appointed. When a child passes away, the parents typically have the first right to be appointed. In situations where there are multiple persons of the same class (children of a deceased parent) the court will usually only appoint one sibling to act on behalf of all siblings and it is preferable if the siblings can all agree as to who that will be. Being appointed Administrator does not entitle a person to a greater share of any recovery because of that role.
Who Is Entitled To Recover Damages In A Survival Act and Wrongful Death Act Case In NJ?
In the survival claim, the proceeds are distributed in accordance with the Last Will of the decedent. If there is no will, the proceeds are distributed in accordance with the laws of New Jersey for persons who die without a will. The distribution of money will depend on who is left surviving the deceased person.
In wrongful death cases, the persons most likely to recover are those who were dependent on the deceased person. That is usually the spouse, children, parents, etc. of the deceased person. Others may be entitled to recover depending on the facts of each case. At the end of a case, unless there is agreement by the heirs, a judge will decide how to apportion the money between the heirs based on who was most dependent on the deceased person.
Are There Time Limitations?
Generally, a Survival Act lawsuit must be filed within two years of the incident that caused the injury that led to the death. The Wrongful Death Act must be filed within two years of the date of death. Those dates may be the same but they may also be different. And exceptions apply to these general rules and each factual situation varies so you must see an attorney if you want specific advice on when to file a lawsuit.
What Immediate Action Should Be Taken?
If you believe that you may have a wrongful death case, please contact us immediately. You should insist on an autopsy if there is any dispute as to the cause of death, especially in medical malpractice cases. If the hospital refuses, you have the right to order a private autopsy.
The Rossetti DeVoto Advantage
We are big enough to inflict some serious damage on defendants as you can see from our verdicts and settlements, but small enough to be nimble and move quickly. When you hire us, you get immediate action. Investigators, safety experts, engineers and accident reconstructionists are all hired immediately. Evidence is preserved and site inspections undertaken. Simply put–your case gets off to the right start and great things seem to always flow from the evidence that we obtain in those crucial moments after an accident. Not all law firms can do that. They simply have too many lawyers, too many cases and too much going on. To be sure, there are times when its just impossible for family to retain a lawyer immediately after an accident. Not to worry, we will do everything in our power to protect you as best as we can, including filing emergent actions in court to preserve important evidence before it is destroyed.
ROSSETTI, DEVOTO, MEDORI & BAXTER, P.C. has successfully handled many wrongful death cases in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Please call us for a free consultation to discuss your case. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about your rights and New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Act and Survival Act please go to our question and answer section or read Andy Rossetti’s article on wrongful death in New Jersey.
RECENT VERDICTS and SETTLEMENTS in WRONGFUL DEATH CASES
Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances
$7.1 Million settlement for the wife and children of a man who was tragically killed when a tractor trailer driver crashed into the family car on the NJ Turnpike. Andy Rossetti represented the family. – One of the Top 20 Personal Injury Awards of the Year in New Jersey.
$2,225,000 settlement paid by the City of Camden for deaths of three children who died as a result of a negligent police search after the children went missing. Andy Rossetti represented one of the families.
$2.3 Million Jury Verdict by a Camden County Judge to a 29-year-old Sewell, New Jersey mother and her 5-year-old daughter for damages arising from the death of their husband/father. The wife was only 24 years old and pregnant with the couple’s first child when her husband was killed in a car crash. Another driver disregarded a stop sign and a red flashing light and collided into his van at 50 mph. Lou DeVoto represented the mom and her young daughter. One of the Top Settlements of the year in New Jersey.
$1.85 Million settlement against the City of Camden for the family of a murder victim after the City negligently misplaced a 911 call and failed to respond to a violent crime in progress. Andy Rossetti represented the family.
$1.5 Million medical malpractice settlement for the widow, of a 43 year old man, who died after being negligently treated by a doctor and nurse at a South Jersey hospital in January 1999. Lou DeVoto uncovered grave medication errors made by a nurse and pulmonologist at a South Jersey hospital which caused the death of the man.
$— Confidential Medical Malpractice settlement against Hospital of University of Pennsylvania for wrongful discharge and death of patient leading to infection and death. Lou DeVoto represented the family.
$850,000 product liability settlement after Mediation for wrongful death caused by the combination of unstable furniture and a front heavy television. Andy Rossetti handled the case that uncovered widespread industry knowledge of the problem.
$950,000 medical malpractice settlement for our client who died from the failure of a rehabilitation hospital to position a feeding tube correctly resulting in a massive infection, sepsis and eventual organ failure. The defendant’s denied liability claiming that the patient was compromised before the feeding tube mishap claiming that the incident was not the cause of the death. Lou DeVoto represented the family.
$900,000 settlement for the wrongful death of 75 year old women who was injured and died of a head injury after she tripped over negligently located parking bumpers in a South Jersey shopping center. Lou DeVoto represented the family.