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Mother of Missing New Jersey Boy Files Wrongful Death Claim

The mother of one of five teenage boys who went missing 33 years ago in Newark has filed a wrongful death suit against two men charged with killing the teens, including the principal defendant now on trial for the murders.

Since the burden of proof in a civil case (preponderance of the evidence) is lower than in a criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt), a defendant can be found innocent of murder in a criminal trial but liable in a civil wrongful death suit - as in the case of O.J. Simpson.

Most tort cases are brought by the injured person, but a wrongful death claim is made by the family members of the deceased. The New Jersey Wrongful Death Act provides for compensation for surviving family members when a loved one dies due to the actions or neglect of some person or business.

A wrongful death claim may be brought not only when a family member is killed by a criminal act but also when the death occurs due to a workplace accident, industrial poisoning (such as by toxic waste or asbestos), a vehicle accident, a defective product, malpractice by a medical professional, or many other causes.

Damages are based on the economic injury to the family caused by the death, based on the deceased's estimated income over the course of his or her working life. This amount is usually paid in a lump sum to the survivors. Hospital and funeral expenses are also covered.

Surviving family members can also sue to recover the value of the non-financial benefits that the deceased provided, such as child care, house and yard work, education, and guidance.

The NJ Wrongful Death Act doesn't allow recovery for emotional harm to surviving family members, but claims for such injuries are allowed under different laws, and all of these claims can be combined in a single lawsuit.

If you have lost a family member and think you may have a wrongful death claim, contact the New Jersey Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC.

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