Your Legal Remedies for Loss of a Loved One in a Fatal Car Accident

Losing a family member in a car accident is a devastating experience, especially when it is the result of someone else's negligence. While no amount of compensation can truly make up for the untimely death of a loved one, New Jersey law provides ways for surviving family members to obtain relief that can ease the practical detriments of the tragic loss. There are two distinct legal remedies available.

When a family member dies in a car accident caused by another person's negligence, a wrongful death claim allows survivors — such as spouses, children and parents — to seek compensation for the losses they suffered due to their loved one's death.

The types of compensation recoverable in a wrongful death claim include the following:

  • Funeral and burial expenses — These are the costs associated with laying the deceased family member to rest, which would otherwise be a significant financial burden.
  • Loss of financial support — This includes the economic benefits that family members would have received from the decedent had the fatal accident not occurred.
  • Loss of guidance, companionship and consortium — These are the personal losses suffered by the family due to absence of their loved one. For surviving spouses, they include loss of consortium, which is the comfort, society and intimate relationship typically provided by a marriage.

New Jersey law also allows for a survival action to be brought. This type of lawsuit can compensate the decedent's estate for the losses incurred from the time of the accident until the point of death, including the pain and suffering the decedent experienced as a result of the injuries in the accident. Pain and suffering damages can be substantial, especially if the decedent lingers on for weeks or months. Damages recovered in a survival action are paid to the decedent’s estate and thereafter distributed to the estate beneficiaries, who are typically the decedent’s close family members.

Wrongful death actions and survival actions must be filed and prosecuted by the decedent's executor or administrator. If none is available, the court can appoint an eligible person as administrator for the purpose of prosecuting the claims. This is often the surviving spouse or another family member.

There are strict time limits for filing wrongful death and survival actions in New Jersey. They must be brought within two years of the decedent's death. Failure to meet this deadline may result in the forfeiture of the right to seek damages.

An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the process of filing wrongful death and survival claims, ensure that the necessary procedures are followed on time and work diligently to secure the compensation and justice you deserve.

Siegel Law in Ridgewood handles New Jersey wrongful death and survival litigation on behalf of clients in Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties. Please call us at 201-444-4000 or contact us online to schedule a free initial appointment.

We are here for you.

Please contact us using the form below in order to schedule a consultation.