In the weeks and months after a fatal accident, it’s absolutely essential that you take the time to grieve your loss. At some point, though, you’ll need to decide whether you want to take legal action to recover for your losses. No amount of money can undo what has happened, but you may experience the loss directly because of the lost support your loved one would have provided, or the loss of companionship or consortium that their absence brings. You have a right to pursue damages, but you’ll need to prove in court that the death was wrongful. To do so, you must show negligence.
If you choose to take legal action after an accidental death, you will have the burden of proof—you must demonstrate to the court that the defendant was negligent. In civil actions in New Jersey, that means that you must show by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the defendant was negligent and that you sustained losses. In essence, it means that the full weight of the evidence supporting your claim of negligence must be more persuasive than any evidence the defendant produces.
To successfully prove negligence, you must show three things:
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