Your worst fear as a parent is that your child will pass away before you do, for example, after a terminal illness or terrible accident. After all, no parent in New Jersey should have to bury their child.
A child’s death is always tragic, but when the death is at the hands of someone else the tragedy is all the greater because it could have been prevented with due care. Parents in such situations may be able to pursue compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Wrongful death damages when child dies
New Jersey law states that you can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit when a loved one dies because someone else acted negligently. Negligence in general means that a person had a duty of care that they did not follow, resulting in your loved one’s death.
Basically, in a wrongful death suit you stand in the shoes of the deceased who would have been able to sue for negligence had they lived. Parents can pursue a wrongful death suit for the negligent death of their child.
Pursuing damages for the death of a child
Still, what kind of damages can you pursue when a child dies? After all, the death of a child is very different from the death of an adult.
An adult often is still working and supporting a family, while a child is not. Adults provide care, companionship and consortium. While parents and children share a loving bond, it is a different relationship than spouses share with one another.
You can pursue certain damages whether the deceased is a child or an adult. In either case, you can seek compensation for hospital, medical and funeral expenses you incurred due to the death.
You can also seek compensation for the pain and suffering the deceased experienced, whether the deceased is an adult or a child.
Loss of consortium is a bit trickier to quantify in a wrongful death claim. The court will have to consider how much emotional support the child gave you. The emotional support a child provides is very different from that of a parent or spouse.
Loss of guidance is aimed specifically at parents. A parent guides their child throughout life, and the loss of that guidance is compensable. However, a child does not instruct their parent, so there is a minimal loss there.
Loss of financial support is generally aimed at spouses and parents. It is the adult who supports the child financially, not the other way around. So, the amount of compensation that will be awarded for loss of financial support when a child dies is minimal.
Your heart breaks into a million pieces when your child dies. The grief you experience is unmatched. If your child died due to someone else’s negligence, it is only natural that you will want to be financially compensated for the loss. While this compensation may look different than it would be if an adult died it still helps you as a parent find some sense of closure for your loss.