Evans Agrapidis on Wrongful Death Cases in New Jersey and the Calculation of Damages
Among the most challenging cases that Evans Agrapidis of Jersey City, New Jersey, a personal injury and accident lawyer and the founder of Agrapidis & Maroules law firm, handles involve the wrongful death of a loved one. Agrapidis & Maroules has two locations in the New Jersey Area, one in Jersey City on John F. Kennedy Blvd., and the other on State Highway Route 17 in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
Agrapidis notes that wrongful death cases are frequently concerning, as clients often have to relive tragic events and deal with controversial issues in the case.
Wrongful Death in New Jersey
In the state of New Jersey, common wrongful death cases include car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, workplace-related accidents, medical malpractice, defective products, lack of security and protection, and wrongdoing by law enforcement.
Under New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:31–1, those connected to the decedent’s estates have legal remedy. Much like a personal injury claim, a wrongful death lawsuit requires proof of negligence, says Evans Agrapidis.
To establish liability, four elements must be proven:
Duty: The party owed a duty of care to the victim. For instance, the party owed a duty to drive as a reasonable, cautious person without placing other motorists (such as the victim) at risk of injury.
Breach: The party breached the duty owed to the victim such as driving at a dangerous speed or during (or under) dangerous driving conditions.
Causation: The party’s careless actions served as the main cause of the victim’s death.
Damages: As a result of the defendant’s actions, those eligible to recover under the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act have suffered actual financial losses.
If you have recently lost a loved one from a wrongful death incident, it may be helpful for you to get a better understanding of how a wrongful death lawsuit works in New Jersey.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New Jersey
According to Evans Agrapidis, wrongful death claims in New Jersey must be brought in the name of a personal representative of the victim’s eligible survivors. The representative may be the executor named in the victim’s will, or, if the victim hasn’t made a will, the representative would be the person appointed by a competent jurisdiction to serve as the administrator of the victim’s estate.
These individuals could be:
· The surviving spouse and children
· If there is no surviving spouse and children, it could be the victim’s surviving parents
· If there are no surviving parents, it could be the victim’s surviving siblings, nieces or nephews
In other words, to be eligible to inherit from the victim, the individual(s) must demonstrate actual dependency upon the deceased.
Evans Agrapidis on Financial Recovery and Calculation of Damages
Financial losses, otherwise known as “pecuniary damages,” are the only calculation of damages to be recovered in a wrongful death claim in New Jersey. In other words, no compensation can be collected for the pain and suffering that a victim sustained. Those damages must be pursued in a different claim — one that can be brought at the same time as a wrongful death lawsuit, says Evans Agrapidis.
Additionally, in a wrongful death lawsuit, no recovery can be sought for the emotional distress, mental anguish, and grief of surviving family members. However, a negligent infliction of emotional distress may be pursued if a family member happened to witness the death in person.
The types of damages that can be obtained include loss of income (income that the victim would have actually earned and contributed to his or her survivors), loss of services (the reasonable economic value of the loss of services, assistance, guidance and training that the victim would have provided), and reasonable funeral and medical expenses.