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New Jersey Wrongful Death Laws

A wrongful death is a term that describes a situation where a person died because of someone's wrongdoing or negligence. In these situations, surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate of the deceased person (the decedent).

Wrongful Death Laws and Damages

In New Jersey, the decedent's surviving family members can receive compensation for their resulting losses due to the death of their relative.

Recoverable damages include the following:

  • Loss of income (the amount of income that the decedent would have earned and contributed to the survivors);
  • Reasonable funeral and medical expenses; and
  • Loss of services (the reasonable economic/pecuniary losses, but the emotional value of services is not recoverable).

Under New Jersey law, only financial losses are recoverable; there is no recovery for nonpecuniary losses. However, there have been efforts in the legislature to change the law and allow recovery for mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, and loss of society and companionship, so these types of damages could be available in the future.

New Jersey Wrongful Death Laws at a Glance

Understanding the law can be difficult especially when you have to decipher statutes written in legalese. Because we believe the law should be accessible to everyone, we've provided the chart below which is a helpful breakdown of New Jersey wrongful death laws -- in plain English.


New Jersey Statutes Title 2A. Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice:




Under New Jersey law, the following individuals may file a wrongful death lawsuit:

  • The decedent's spouse and children or grandchildren;
  • The decedent's parents;
  • Any surviving siblings, nieces, or nephews of the decedent; and
  • Any individual who can demonstrate that they were "actually dependent" on the decedent.

Standard of Proof

For a wrongful death lawsuit, you must prove the following elements of negligence:

  • Duty (to the decedent);
  • Breach of the duty;
  • Causation; and
  • Damages.

Statute of Limitations

Wrongful death cases in New Jersey have a 2-year statute of limitations. This means that you must file the claim within the 2-year time frame or risk losing the opportunity to bring the matter to court.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

New Jersey Wrongful Death Laws: Related Resources

Questions about New Jersey Wrongful Death Laws? Ask an Attorney

It's always difficult to cope with the loss of a family member; it's especially troublesome when the death was caused by an individual, corporation, or other entity and could have been avoided. New Jersey wrongful death laws allow you to file a claim for compensation and to hold the wrongdoer accountable for their actions. Get help with this process by contacting an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney near you.

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