What if I lost my child as the consequence of a terrible accident?

Losing a child is painful beyond words. However, the New Jersey courts have recognized that children and parents have a special relationship. Of course, this relationship would reasonably be expected to change with time as the parents and children age. With that being said, a recovery in a wrongful death suit will be calculated by taking into consideration the changing needs between the parent and child as they grow older including companionship, monetary support and guidance.

After losing a loved one, you may be thinking of all of the emotional pleasure that was derived from the relationship between the deceased and the survivors; unfortunately, this is not a compensable loss recognized by the Wrongful Death Act. However, emotional distress, distinguishable from emotional pleasure, may be compensable under another claim of action called negligent infliction of emotional distress. A lawsuit based under this legal theory is often referred to as a Jaffe claim due to the seminal case Portee v. Jaffee, 84 N.J. 88, and requires the plaintiff to prove certain elements. These elements include:

  • The death or serious injury of a family member was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
  • A marital or intimate familial relationship between plaintiff and the injured person existed.
  • The plaintiff actually observed the death or injury at the scene of the accident and resulted in severe emotional distress to the plaintiff.

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