DEATH CASES

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Wrongful death cases are complicated matters. If someone you love has died as a result of negligence, consult a personal injury attorney. If an injury case is not the type Kenneth Vercammen, Esq. can handle, we will try to refer you to another competent trial attorney.

In a Wrongful death jury trial in New Jersey, we [ your trial attorney] will research the current caselaw.

The plaintiff brings this lawsuit as the representative of the survivors of the decedent and seeks to recover damages from the defendant contending that defendants fault was responsible for the death of the decedent. The money damages sought on behalf of the survivors of the decedent represent the actual pecuniary or financial loss which plaintiff contends has been and will in the future be suffered by the survivors due to the death of the decedent. This claim for pecuniary or financial loss is distinguished from any physical injuries or suffering that may have been sustained by the decedent, such as any pain and suffering or disability sustained by the decedent. In the event that you find in favor of the plaintiff, that is, that the defendant was at fault, which fault was a proximate cause of plaintiff decedents death, you must limit your consideration to whatever financial loss was suffered by the survivors as measured by what they would have received from the decedent within a reasonable degree of probability if the decedent had survived. I instruct you that the pecuniary injuries or money losses in this case should not include emotional distress, anguish, grief and sorrow or loss of emotional satisfaction derived from the society and companionship of the decedent. These matters, though real and very distressing, cannot be considered in determining the extent of the financial or pecuniary loss suffered by the survivors who are represented in this action by the plaintiff. The financial loss does include, however, not only actual monies which would have been contributed to or earned for the benefit of the survivors, but it also includes the reasonable value of benefits which would have been received in the nature of services, assistance and care as well as training, guidance and counsel that the decedents survivors (such as children, parents or spouse) would have received had the decedent lived. To determine the amount of damages to be awarded, i.e., the extent of the financial loss caused by the premature death of the decedent, all circumstances and probabilities which bear upon that financial loss may be considered. The following are factors that you may weigh: 1. You may consider the age and general state of health of the decedent and of the survivors. [You will recall that there was testimony concerning their life expectancies as of the date of the decedents death (and the decedents work life expectancy). These figures are in evidence and are assumptions based on probable length of life which have been computed from statistical data. They are general rules and you should therefore use them with caution in any individual case. Except for this incident the decedent might have lived much longer than estimated by the actuarial period of time. You should consider the expectancy figures in your determination of damages, if any, to be awarded for financial losses in accordance with my instructions in this case, but you must exercise your sound judgment in computing them. Do not treat them as a necessary or fixed rule.]See footnote 1 2. You should consider the net earnings of the decedent after taxes as of the time of his/her death. You should give due regard to any evidence concerning [the decedents income tax liability and you should also consider]See footnote 2 the decedents potential future net income during the balance of his/her working life expectancy. The reason for considering net income is that only that portion of his/her income after taxes, not gross income, would have been available for the benefit of the decedents survivors who are represented by the plaintiff in this case.

[Add where decedent is a minor child:

In this case, since the decedent is a minor child, you, the jury, should consider the value of the reasonably anticipated direct financial contributions which would have been made by the child to the survivors after he/she became a wage earner. You should also take into consideration any actual financial contributions, if any, which the decedent, while living, may have made to the survivors in determining the pecuniary loss to them. ] 3. You should also consider the decedents own personal expenses. Therefore, it is necessary that you find to what extent the net earnings of the decedent were necessary for his/her own use, maintenance and personal needs. In determining the pecuniary loss of the survivors there must be deducted from the net earnings of the decedent whatever sums fairly represent expenses for his/her own maintenance since it is obvious that these monies could not have been used for the benefit of the s

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Published In: Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Kenneth Vercammen, Esq., Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, PC | Attorney Advertising

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