UPDATED APRIL 10, 2019
In every wrongful death case, the family of the deceased feels that they have each lost something. When that death is the fault of another, they may ask whether they are entitled to compensation for the loss of a loved one. As we discuss below, the law, unfortunately, places no value whatsoever on human life itself.Related: Personal Injury, Wrongful Death
New Jersey Wrongful Death/Survivorship Compensation Laws
When someone passes away because of the negligence of another, there are two components to the case. First, there is pain and suffering that the person experienced before they died. The estate is entitled to compensation for this pain and suffering, and those funds will pass to the beneficiaries of the estate. Second, there is the economic loss due to the death. The people who relied upon the deceased for economic support are entitled to compensation for this. Had the person not died, they would have continued to support their family members. That is the pecuniary portion of a wrongful death case.
But what many people do not realize is that the law does not consider the life itself to have any kind of value whatsoever. The family members are not able to collect compensation for their grief, or for the fact that they have lost the moral support and companionship of a loved one. In our opinion, this is terribly unfortunate, especially in cases where a husband loses a wife, a young child loses a mother, a parent loses a child, etc.
In a recent case, we were reminded of this great injustice that is created by our laws. The case was a New York case, Laurie A. Thurston v. The State of New York, but the laws in NY and NJ on this issue are really the same.
In that case, the decedent was in a state-run facility for her disability. She had a seizure disorder, which was quite serious. The personnel were being paid to give her 1-on-1 attention 100% of the time. She simply could not be left alone. Unfortunately, the person bathing her was remiss in her duties – she left the woman in the bath, walked out of the room, and intended to return with fresh clothing. At that time, the woman suffered a seizure and lost consciousness. Quickly she went under the water and drowned. Medical personnel were unable to revive her and she passed away.
The facility hardly contested anything in the case. They essentially admitted that they were negligent and that the negligence caused the death. But the case was still thrown out of court. The woman was disabled and would never earn an income. No one counted on her for economic support. So that economic portion of the case had a value of $0. Also, there was no proof that the woman experienced any conscious pain and suffering. According to the medical proofs, she had apparently lost consciousness BEFORE she even went under the water. The pain and suffering portion of the case therefore had a value of $0. However, the woman’s sister lost a lover one, whom she spent much time with and would miss dearly for years to come. And that portion of the loss, unfortunately, is not something that anyone case collect money for, by law. Until the lawmakers change this, injustices like this case will continue to happen.
New Jersey Wrongful Death Lawyer – Free Consultation With a Skilled Attorney
Remember, the insurance companies have teams of adjusters and attorneys who will do all that they legally can to avoid compensating injured people. We have been representing injured individuals and their families since 1922 and we are very familiar with dealing with their tactics. If you have any question or you or a loved one were injured, please do not hesitate to contact us for a 100% free consultation.
Raff & Raff, LLP
Attorneys at Law
30 Church Street
Paterson, NJ 07505
Tel: (973) 742-1917
Fax: (973) 742-2454