Recently, the families of two victims of a fatal car accident in Mannington, New Jersey, lost a wrongful death case against the county in an arbitration hearing. The wrongful death claims stem from a 2011 incident in which a 21-year-old woman and a 22-year-old woman were killed when their car skidded on an icy road and crashed into a tree. Both women were pronounced dead at the scene.
The women's families filed a wrongful death lawsuit alleging negligence on the part of the county in failing to keep the roads safe. The road had recently been plowed after a snowfall, and the snow had melted during the day. The temperature dropped during the night, causing the excess water to turn to ice and allegedly make the roads unsafe. The county succeeded in defeating the claim, offering evidence that the women were travelling at speeds of over 60 mph, which was likely a factor in the accident. The families have the option to appeal the outcome.
In wrongful death lawsuits, such as the one in this case, it is not always clear whose negligence caused the fatal injury. Many circumstances can blur the picture regarding whose fault the fatal injury was. In this case, it is unclear whether the county's failure to keep the roads free of ice or the speed that the women were driving at was the cause of their deaths. Because of this, it can be difficult to determine the responsible party and the proper remedy.
Wrongful death lawsuits, which allege negligence on the part of a party leading to the victim's death, are brought by representatives of the deceased, typically a family member or an attorney representing the deceased. The purpose of these lawsuits is to gain damages for the victim's family, and hold the defendant accountable for their negligence and the injury it caused.
Anyone who has lost a loved one or family member to negligence has the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. They may recover monetary damages for all the financial damages caused by the fatal accident, including pain and suffering. Anyone impacted by a negligent act has the legal ability to seek redress through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Source: South Jersey Times, "Salem County cleared of wrongful death claims filed in 2011double fatal crash," Michael Williams, May 17, 2013.