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How Do Courts Distribute Compensation in a New Jersey Wrongful Death Case?

May 4, 2015

deadly car accident in nearby Paterson, New Jersey has left behind two fatalities and two badly injured people, along with many more questions. While investigators piece together the cause of the wreck, speculation about either drivers’ intoxication as well as questions about slippery road conditions continue by the grieving family and friends of those involved.

If your family has suffered a loss due to the negligence of another person, the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC wants you to know that you don’t have to struggle through the legal system alone. We are here to assist in your time of loss.

You have legal rights under New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Act as well as under the state’s intestacy (or probate) laws.

The United States Dept. of Justice (DOJ) created this informative chart intended to help families understand some facts about victim compensation in New Jersey. When a family member dies at the hand of another person, the surviving family is entitled to compensation. But you may not know that the compensation is not equally divided among the relatives.

Manner of Distribution

So what are the laws determining how much each person receives?

When someone dies without first creating a will, we say that person died intestate. New Jersey’s intestacy laws determine the priority by which the probate court distributes that person’s estate, and it all depends on family relationships. For example, if the intestate person was married at the time of his or her death, the spouse inherits everything. The DOJ’s chart explains when the deceased leaves a spouse and children, the “spouse takes the first $50,000 plus half of the balance of the estate if the children are also the spouse’s. If they are not, spouse only take half of the estate. Remainder is divided equally among the children in the same generation.”

These are just two examples of ways the intestacy rules work in New Jersey. When we’re dealing with a wrongful death lawsuit, any compensation recovered for pain and suffering, including loss of companionship, loss of parental guidance, and loss of domestic help, will be divided according to the intestacy rules (as incorporated into the Wrongful Death and Survival Statutes). For more information on your rights surrounding a wrongful death claim, contact an experienced New Jersey wrongful death attorney.

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