New Jersey May Join the Civilized World in Compensating Wrongful Death Claims

The New Jersey state legislature is considering a bill allowing wrongful death beneficiaries to recover damages for emotional harm. The bill, approved Thursday by the New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee by a 7-4 vote, would allow the families of those killed in auto accident, by medical malpractice, or other negligence to recover non-economic damages. Family members can only recover economic damages resulting from the death of a loved one.

Retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Alan Handler reportedly testified to this Senate committee that New Jersey’s Wrongful Death Act did not fairly and adequately compensate the families in wrongful death cases.

The New Jersey law may reflect common law traditions but it does not reflect anything resembling the modern view on appropriate compensation for the greatest pain in a wrongful death case – the loss of someone you deeply loved.