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Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New Jersey: Who Is At Fault?

Wrongful Death Lawsuits in New Jersey: Who Is At Fault?

The case of a Garfield, New Jersey woman’s murder by an escaped parolee in 2010 illustrates the sometimes-complicated scenario of who bears financial responsibility in a homicide.

In this incident, the accused was in a halfway house release program after serving time in prison. He had faked a medical emergency to be transferred to University Hospital, where he then escaped and committed the murder just a few hours later. Survivors of the deceased sought to sue several parties in a wrongful death lawsuit — the privately run halfway house, plus several state agencies including the department of corrections and the university-run hospital — but a judged determined only that the halfway house and possibly the hospital could be sued.

Wrongful death litigation is a means for recovering money for losses in the wake of a death due to murders or accidents. These losses can include:

  • Loss of economic support, where applicable (including the value of that support calculated over the expected working time-span of the deceased, and also accounting for inflation)
  • Loss of value of services (for example, when a mother is killed and her family then needs to hire help with household chores and child-raising)
  • Loss of the monetary value of nurturing and educational guidance

Note that if a loved one witnessed the scene of the death, they can sue for emotional distress. Unfortunately, the grief of loss is non-compensable in New Jersey.

Anyone who has gone through a wrongful death in the family should speak with an attorney who has experience in this realm. Establishing a strong case often is contingent on collecting evidence and eyewitness testimony shortly after the accident happens.

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