Losing a loved one prematurely is a terrible experience that no family should ever have to endure. However, the unfortunate reality is that thousands of New Jersey families are affected by these tragic losses every year. When a loved one’s death results from another’s negligence, the tragedy is magnified.
Of course, nothing can bring back a loved one lost in a preventable accident. However, families can pursue a New Jersey wrongful death claim to help them deal with the financial repercussions of their loss. At the New Jersey personal injury and wrongful death law firm of Petrillo & Goldberg, our dedicated team of compassionate attorneys proudly represents families in all types of wrongful death claims. We have a long track record of success, having recovered over $120 million on behalf of our clients. Over the nearly three decades we’ve been handling wrongful death cases in New Jersey, we average a 97 percent success rate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, accidents are among the top three causes of death in the United States, along with heart disease and cancer.
Each year, more than 170,000 people die as a result of preventative accidents, accounting for more than six percent of all deaths in the United States.
Across the United States, the top three causes of accidental deaths are:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Accidental poisoning
The New Jersey State Police keep track of fatal motor vehicle accidents. According to the most recent data, there were 553 fatal car accidents in New Jersey during 2020, resulting in 590 fatalities. This represents a 3.2 percent increase from the number of fatalities in 2019.
Among those killed in 2020 New Jersey car accidents, were:
- 308 drivers of cars,
- 85 passengers,
- 18 bicyclists, and
- 179 pedestrians.
In 2020, the counties with the most fatal car accidents were:
- Atlantic County: 39 fatal accidents, 41 fatalities
- Burlington County: 40 fatal accidents, 42 fatalities
- Camden County: 36 fatal accidents, 38 fatalities
- Essex County: 38 fatal accidents, 44 fatalities
- Middlesex County: 61 fatal accidents, 67 fatalities
- Monmouth County: 35 fatal accidents, 36 fatalities
In New Jersey, 6.2 percent of all deaths are classified as accidental. This amounts to 4,767 deaths per year.
What Is a New Jersey Wrongful Death Claim?
A New Jersey wrongful death claim is a type of personal injury claim. Except, instead of being brought by the injured party, a wrongful death claim is filed by the personal representative or the executor of the accident victim’s estate on behalf of their surviving loved ones. A wrongful death claim is very similar to other types of personal injury claims in most other respects.
Under New Jersey law, a wrongful death claim can be brought anytime that another’s “wrongful act, neglect or default” causes someone’s death. More simply stated, a family bringing a wrongful death claim must prove that another party negligently caused the death of their loved one. Thus, New Jersey wrongful death claims are commonly filed after any of the following types of accidents:
- Car accidents – Car accidents are a leading cause of death in New Jersey, and across the country. All drivers owe a duty of care to others on the road, to safely operate their vehicle at all times. Of course, this means following all posts traffic signs and traffic laws, but it also requires motorists to use good judgment when behind the wheel. If a motorist makes even a momentary lapse of judgment, and tragedy ensues, the surviving loved ones of the deceased accident victim can pursue a New Jersey wrongful death claim.
- Truck wrecks – Truck drivers are responsible for operating enormous vehicles, capable of causing tremendous damage. Like other drivers, truckers owe everyone else on the road a duty of care. However, one unique aspect in New Jersey truck accident cases is that, often, the truck driver’s employer can also be named in a wrongful death claim. Under the doctrine of vicarious liability, an employer is responsible for an employee’s negligent acts, provided the accident occurred during the scope of the employee’s work.
- Motorcycle accidents – Motorcycles are a great way to get around, especially in the warmer months. Few things are more enjoyable than cruising along the Jersey Shore on a motorcycle. However, motorcyclists are also at great risk because many drivers are not accustomed to sharing the road with these two-wheeled vehicles. One of the most common causes of New Jersey motorcycle accidents is distracted driving; because even a momentary glimpse away from the road can have tragic consequences.
- Pedestrian accidents – For a relatively small state, geographically speaking, New Jersey has several large cities. The result is that walking is common for many New Jersey residents. Unfortunately, more than 150 pedestrians are killed each year in New Jersey car accidents, making these collisions one of the most common types of fatal accidents. Regardless of where a pedestrian was hit, the driver may be responsible. Thus, family members should reach out to a dedicated New Jersey wrongful death lawyer to discuss the possibility of bringing a claim.
- Slip and falls – Falls are another leading cause of death in New Jersey. While most fatal slip and falls involve older people, anyone can succumb to their injuries after a serious fall. Businesses, private citizens, and government entities all have an obligation to maintain a safe place for invited guests. When a property owner fails to take the necessary precautions, and someone dies as a result, they can be held liable through a New Jersey wrongful death claim.
- Workplace accidents – Workplace accidents are among the more complex wrongful death claims because family members must deal with the fact that workers’ compensation is typically their sole remedy against their loved one’s employer. This means that, if an employer’s negligence causes an accident victim’s death, they may only be able to pursue survivor’s benefits through a workers’ comp claim. However, if a third-party (such as another driver, subcontractor, or customer) causes or contributes to their death, a family can bring a New Jersey wrongful death claim against the at-fault party.
There are a few common examples of situations where a wrongful death case may be appropriate. However, at Petrillo & Goldberg, we help families bring wrongful death claims in any situation where another’s negligence causes or contributes to someone’s death.
How Long Do You Have to File a New Jersey Wrongful Death Claim?
Under state law, a New Jersey wrongful death claim must be filed within two years of the date an accident victim passed away. Notably, this may be—and often is—more than two years from the date of the accident. However, it is imperative to a claim’s success that a family brings the claim as quickly as possible.
It is important to quickly file a wrongful death claim because this makes investigating the case much easier for your attorney. For example, the longer you wait to file a claim, the harder it may be to obtain physical evidence. Witnesses may not be able to be located. Even if they are, they may forget important details about the accident.
At Petrillo & Goldberg, we prefer to get involved in a case shortly after the accident. This way, we can hit the ground running, getting started with an investigation, filing motions to preserve evidence, and interviewing all witnesses who observed the accident. We will also determine the full extent of your damages to more effectively negotiate with the insurance company. We will then develop an effective strategy before beginning negotiations with the insurance company.
In most cases, we are able to secure a favorable out-of-court settlement with the insurance company. This is because insurance companies know that we will not back down once we get involved in a case and will not let them take advantage of our clients. However, some insurance companies are more difficult than others, and it is not unheard of for an insurance company to refuse to make a fair settlement offer. In these cases, we will not hesitate to stand up from the negotiation table and file a wrongful death claim in court.
From the moment you decide to bring Petrillo & Goldberg onto your team, we will handle everything, allowing you to focus on your recovery and work towards moving on after the tragedy you’ve endured.
Damages in a New Jersey Wrongful Death Case
Families who successfully bring a wrongful death claim are entitled to damages to compensate them for their loss. These damages include those out-of-pocket expenses that a family incurred as a result of the accident. A few types of damages available through a New Jersey wrongful death claim include:
- Lost wages;
- Loss of support; and
- Funeral and burial expenses.
Notably, New Jersey wrongful death claims do not allow families to recover for the pain and suffering they endured as a result of the accident. However, an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney may be able to help families pursue related claims, such as a survival action or a claim for the negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Reach Out to a Dedicated New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawyer for Immediate Assistance
If you recently lost a loved one in a fatal accident, give the dedicated New Jersey wrongful death lawyers at Petrillo & Goldberg a call. Our compassionate attorneys aggressively pursue maximum compensation for the senseless loss of our client’s loved ones. We’ve been successfully representing families in wrongful death and survivor actions since 1993, and know what it takes to build a successful case. Our skilled negotiators resolve the vast majority of cases without the need for a long, drawn-out trial, so you can get back to your life as quickly as possible. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with one of our New Jersey wrongful death lawyers, call 856-486-4343 today. Calling is free, and because we take all cases on a contingency basis, we won’t get paid unless you do.