Around 1 AM this morning, a NJ State Police officer was involved in a car accident in which 2 pedestrians were stuck and killed. This tragic accident happened on the New Jersey turnpike, near the Vince Lombardi service area outside of Secaucus. The investigation into the accident is ongoing, but NJ.com reports that the 2 pedestrians were walking away from their vehicle, which had broke-down. The families may have a wrongful death lawsuit for 2 people killed on NJ turnpike in this tragic accident against the New Jersey State Police.

Proving Wrongful Death

To prove wrongful death you must show that the person(s) died due to a negligent, wrongful or intentional act of another. There are generally two parts to wrongful death lawsuit, a survival action which allows recovery for injuries until death, and the wrongful death action, which the heirs can recover losses associated with the death (i.e. lost earnings and prospective earnings of the deceased, lost companionship, etc.).

Further complications for a wrongful death lawsuit against the New Jersey State Police is that the legislature has enacted the New Jersey Tort Claims Act. This means that you MUST ACT FAST, there is a 90 day notice provision in which the claimant must give a notice of claim to the public entity – there is an exception to the general rule, but it leaves discretion to a Superior Court Judge to allow the filing at that point or not.  That does not mean you have to bring a lawsuit at that point, you have two years to bring the lawsuit, but need to give notice to the public entity before then. The act also provides a threshold provision at N.J. Stat. § 59:9-2 (d) as follows:

“No damages shall be awarded against a public entity or public employee for pain and suffering resulting from any injury; provided, however, that this limitation on the recovery of damages for pain and suffering shall not apply in cases of permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent disfigurement or dismemberment where the medical treatment expenses are in excess of $ 3,600.00.”

However, unlike in Pennsylvania, New Jersey does not cap the limits on damages for a wrongful death lawsuit. Under the Pennsylvania Tort Claims Act , 42 Pa. C.S. § 5522, requires notice to the public entity within six months after the accident happened. In addition to the issues mentioned, there are other many complicating factors when making a wrongful death lawsuit against a public entity (i.e. the State, Municipality, or Agency thereof) that need to be addressed by a wrongful death lawyer.

In this tragic case, or any other wrongful death lawsuit, it is important to contact a wrongful death lawyer to investigate the claim, discuss issues relating to the death, including, whether an autopsy is needed, the appointment of an administrator if there is no will. If there is a will, the executor should come with you to meet the wrongful death lawyer to start an investigation of all possible claims. The lawyers at KaplunMarx are licensed to handle a wrongful death lawsuit in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, at the very least we could give sound advice to a family who has experienced a tragedy.

As you can see there are many complicating factors that need to be considered before a wrongful death lawsuit for the 2 people killed on the New Jersey Turnpike can be brought. The most important of which is whether the 2 pedestrians were negligent in being on the turnpike. Another important factor would be the speed of the officer in question, and whether this accident could have been prevented by him? These issues would need to be investigated quickly and thoroughly because physical evidence gets lost quickly due to the nature of this type of accident on a very busy roadway.