Doria Calls For Justice In Wrongful Death Cases

TRENTON – Senator Joseph V. Doria announced earlier this week the support of the Consumers for Civil Justice (CCJ) for his bill, S-176, which would amend the “Wrongful Death Act” in New Jersey to provide fairness and justice to families who have lost a loved one due to wrongful death.

“I’m very happy to announce the support of the CCJ in pushing for justice for families grieving wrongful deaths,” said Senator Doria, D-Hudson. “In New Jersey, the current law is way too restrictive in terms of recoverable damages, especially in cases where there is no financial loss to the surviving family members, like the death of a small child. I think it’s inhumane, and unfair, to tell grieving families that since their loss doesn’t hit them in the wallet, that they aren’t entitled to some form of compensation to help make them whole.”

Senator Doria’s bill, S-176, would amend the current “Wrongful Death Act,” which only allows for recovery of financial losses to surviving family members in a wrongful death, to include mental anguish and emotional distress. A wrongful death, under the current law, is any death that occurs due to the negligent or malfeasant actions of another. In ‘wrongful death’ cases, the jury awards damages to the surviving family members in a civil trial setting.

The CCJ, a victims’ advocacy coalition that includes the AARP, Health Professions and Allied Employees, MADD-NJ, NJ Council on Safety and Health, the Hemophilia Association of NJ, NJ Citizen Action, NJPIRG, Voices for Patient Protection and other victims’ rights organizations, held a news conference at the Statehouse Monday to support the bill.

“Any loss of human life is tragic, but when the negligence or misconduct of another human being is to blame, it is that person’s responsibility to do right by the surviving family,” said Senator Doria. “The loss of a beloved family member cannot be measured in finances alone, and we should allow families to recover the same damages available to other victims of malfeasance or malpractice. This is a matter of equity to surviving family members, and ultimately, would be up to a jury to decide what amount would be fair to compensate for the family’s loss.”

The bill was introduced in January, and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Doria has introduced and sponsored variations on this bill in previous session of the Legislature.