Recovering Damages for Fatal Auto Accidents in New Jersey


Automobile accidents are a fact of modern life. Unfortunately, some of these accidents are fatal. In 2021, there were nearly 700 deaths on New Jersey roadways — a marked increase over the two prior years. The accidental loss of life often inflicts severe and permanent emotional damage on those left behind. In addition, there are often direct financial losses when the victim provided income to support a family. Fortunately, a fatal accident victim’s survivors can seek compensation for these losses through a wrongful death lawsuit.

A wrongful death suit can be filed when someone negligently, recklessly or intentionally causes the death of another person. Under New Jersey law, a wrongful death claim arising from a fatal car accident requires showing that the defendant was more at fault for the accident than the deceased driver. So if both drivers were each 50 percent responsible for the crash there is no compensation from either side.

Also, the plaintiff must show that the family member died as a result of the crash. This gets complicated when there was a substantial amount of time between the accident and the victim’s death. The cause of death can also be unclear if the victim passed away in a manner associated with a pre-existing health condition. There can be situations where both the accident and illness both contributed to the victim’s death. Personal injury lawyers often engage doctors and other medical professionals when the cause of death is an issue.

Finally, the plaintiff must prove damages. Certain types of damage claims are relatively easy to calculate. Lost future income can be projected by factoring the victim’s educational background and career history. Life expectancy can be estimated based on the person’s age and overall current health profile. Add in current accumulated savings and property ownership, and one can create a reasonable future income and wealth projection. The more difficult part is figuring non-economic damages. How does one put a value on the lost love and companionship between the deceased and the family members? It’s difficult but there are ways in which experts can correlate these losses to monetary amounts.

Wrongful death claims are complex and require a high level of legal skill. If someone in your family was involved in a fatal car accident within the state of New Jersey, you should immediately seek the advice and counsel of a wrongful death lawyer to protect their rights.

Seigel Law in Ridgewood is a premier personal injury law firm, serving clients throughout Northern New Jersey, especially in Bergen, Passaic, Essex and Hudson counties. Our experienced personal injury litigators have the knowledge, skills and tenacity to recover the highest potential money damages in wrongful death cases. Feel free to call us at 201-444-4000 or contact us online for an initial consultation.

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