If you’ve lost a close loved one due to negligence, chances are you are dealing with a lot of grief and emotional turmoil. The last thing you want to deal with is a legal battle. However, a simple phone call to our compassionate Princeton wrongful death lawyers can often give you many of the answers you are looking for.
For more than 80 years, our attorneys have worked to help clients who have unexpectedly and unfairly lost family members due to an individual’s or a company’s negligent actions. Contact us today if you would like to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Princeton wrongful death attorneys. We will sit down with you to discuss the details of your case and outline all your options for pursuing the compensation your family needs to move forward.
What Do You Have to Prove in a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death claim may typically be brought as a means of seeking justice when a negligent or reckless action has caused fatal injuries. In general, these actions are brought as a wrongful death lawsuit by the surviving next-of-kin. In order to prove a wrongful death claim, you must prove the basic elements:
Duty. You must first prove the defendant owed the deceased victim a particular legal duty. This is a bit trickier than it may sound, but it just means there was an obligation. In a car accident, for instance, all drivers owe each other a duty to keep a careful lookout when operating their vehicles.
Breach of duty. Next, you must prove that the defendant did something to violate his or her duty. This can be as simple as running a red light or as complex as a physician making a reckless decision during a surgery.
Direct causation. Even if you can prove complete violation of the defendant’s obligations, you still have to prove that this breach actually was the direct cause of the fatal injury. A drunk driver who runs a red light and hits someone is definitely negligent, but if this action is not what led to the death, then there is no case.
Damages. Finally, assuming you can prove all the other elements, you still must prove that you suffered a loss. This is where wrongful death cases can get very complicated. Damages typically include:
- Loss of relationship
- Loss of love and affection
- Loss of financial support
- Funeral expenses
- Burial costs
- Final medical costs
- Loss of household services
A knowledgeable Princeton wrongful death lawyer from Stark & Stark can review your claim and explain your right to compensation during a free, no obligation consultation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, not all loved ones have “standing” (the legal authority) to bring a lawsuit for the deceased person’s injuries. As a general rule, the law gives this right to those who were in some way dependent on the decedent for support. These may include:
- Surviving spouse
- Children (biological and adopted)
- Anyone who can show dependence on the decedent
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
There are many types of catastrophic accidents that can lead to a wrongful death. Common types of cases that our Princeton wrongful death lawyers have handled include deaths due to:
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse or neglect
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Defective medical devices
- Slip and falls
- Workplace injuries
- Dog or other animal attacks
How Can a Lawyer Help with a Wrongful Death Claim?
Our wrongful death attorneys in Princeton, N.J.,can assess your case to determine why the death occurred and who is responsible. Here are some of the ways we protect your rights and help to demand full and fair compensation for your family:
Careful analysis. The first step is to perform a thorough analysis of the facts, including a detailed investigation.
Consulting with experts. In many cases, especially medical malpractice or other cases with complex medical evidence, our team can work closely with highly trained medical specialists to develop a strong case.
Settlement negotiations. When you are suffering and grieving a loss, you don’t need to be talking to insurance companies, lien holders, and debt collectors. Let a certified trial attorney handle the negotiations on your behalf.
Experienced trial counsel. When cases go to trial, you want to know that you are being represented by someone who has extensive courtroom experience. With Stark & Stark, you can rest assured you have an experienced and knowledgeable trial lawyer by your side.
How Long Does It Take to Settle Wrongful Death Claims?
Many factors influence how long a case will last. For instance, one of the first steps in the process is gathering evidence. Depending on how complex the medical care was, it can take months to obtain complete medical records. Once these are received, some cases require a review by a medical expert. Other cases may involve engineering experts, crash reconstruction witnesses, or other expert reviews. Once the case has been fully reviewed, your attorney will often present the matter to the insurance company in order to initiate negotiations.
Once a wrongful death claim is filed in court, the judge will have a specific calendar, which dictates how long the parties will have to proceed through each step of the process. Many wrongful death cases can last several years or more, with a settlement possible at any point.
Having an experienced and successful trial lawyer on your side will expedite your case, as defendants and their insurance companies are typically more eager to settle if they know they will face a tough battle in court.
However, you only have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death case in New Jersey. So it is crucial that you seek trusted legal advice as soon as possible.
Get Help from an Experienced Princeton Wrongful Death Lawyer Now
Remember, the clock is ticking on your right to bring an action for wrongful death in New Jersey. Even if you aren’t quite sure how to proceed, you should still talk to a lawyer. Get all the facts and information you need to make an informed choice. To schedule a free consultation, contact Stark & Stark today.
We represent clients throughout the Northeast, including New Jersey,Pennsylvania, and New York.