Survival Actions in Wrongful Death Claims
There is nothing that can adequately compensate for the loss of a loved one. When a person is killed in an accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, the law provides for what losses the victim’s family may recover in terms of money damages. New Jersey's Wrongful Death Act and Survival Statute set forth several different categories of losses recoverable in a wrongful death lawsuit:
- Wrongful death – Damages for the losses suffered by the decedent’s family include the hospital, medical and funeral expenses, as well as the financial support that was lost as a result of the death. The award is calculated based upon what the decedent reasonably might have been expected to provide for the family had she/he lived. The amount of money awarded for lost financial support is adjusted for inflation and for the present value of future earnings.
There is no recovery for lost emotional comfort in a New Jersey wrongful death action. However, the family can recover for the loss of the decedent’s guidance, education and nurturing, as well as the monetary value of household services that were performed by the decedent such as childcare or housekeeping chores.
- Survival statute – This part of the lawsuit allows for recovery for the pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages the decedent themselves suffered after the accident, but before they died. The damages are paid to the decedent’s estate. Since the Survival Statute provides money damages for the decedent’s losses while alive, they are subject to collection by their creditors. This is not the case for wrongful death damages which compensate the decedent’s family members for their losses.
- Negligent infliction of emotional distress – This is a separate cause of action to recover for the emotional distress of a close family member who witnesses the accident wherein the spouse or close family member is killed as a result of the negligence of another.
There are many aspects to a wrongful death lawsuit. As experienced wrongful death attorneys we focus on providing the surviving family members with the monetary compensation they deserve.