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How are wrongful death damages distributed in New Jersey?

Our New Jersey readers know that accidents can happen at anytime and anywhere, and any person can become the victim of another person's negligence. It could be a fatal motor vehicle accident, a fatal fall, an accidental death or a workplace death. The loss of a loved one can impact a family emotionally and financially. And the situation is even worse for a family if the loved one was the main financial contributor. A victim's family usually has a legal right to seek compensation for a wrongful death from the perceived negligent party or parties.

Each state has its own provisions for giving compensation for a wrongful death to the family of the victim. There are also separate laws regarding the distribution of compensation. According to New Jersey laws, compensation is distributed to family members who are eligible to recover under intestate law and is distributed in proportion to their pecuniary loss.

Under intestate laws, if there are no parents or children, everything goes to the victim's spouse. If a spouse's children are involved, the spouse will get $50,000, and half of the remaining balance of the estate. If the deceased has children from a previous relationship, the spouse gets half of the estate and the rest is equally divided among the children from the same generation. If there are no children, the spouse gets $50,000 and half of the remainder of the estate. The other half is divided equally between the parents. If there are grandchildren, the damages are distributed in a different manner.

Source:, "Summary of State Wrongful Death and Intestacy Statutes," Accessed on Jan. 8, 2015

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