When Negligence Caused Your Minor Child’s Death: What Now?
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Sat Mar 2019
- Wrongful Death,
“There is no greater pain than to bury a child.” For parents, the thought should remain unfathomable. Truth be told, mothers and fathers seldom fully recover. In the meantime, the circumstances of the loss often evoke different feelings. What happens when negligence caused your minor child’s death?
Take the circumstances of this case for example. Your middle school child joins his classmates for a trip to the zoo. As requested, you sign permission slips allowing the school to transport your son on a chartered bus.
At your child’s insistence, you refrain from signing up as one of the trip’s chaperones. Later, you regret your decision as you try to deal with the events that will be forever embedded in your memory.
The phone call takes you by shock. Apparently, the bus crash occurred after the children’s visit to the zoo. They were returning home from a fun day.
At least, most of the kids would go home to their mothers and families. Your son and another little girl would not. Instead, their young lives ended on the highway. You cannot believe it.
As would be expected, you experience a variety of emotions. Shock turns to grief. Disbelief becomes outrage. Admittedly, you want to lash out at the responsible person. How in the world did this happen?
If you’ve lost a child due to someone else’s negligence, you’ve surely experienced almost all of these emotions. The wrongful death of anyone proves difficult for the survivors. However, when someone else is to blame for the loss of your young one, you move into full gear. You should be aware that there are time limits you need to consider as well.
Wrongful Death Claim for Minor Child
When your child dies, a part of you leaves this earth forever. The law permits following wrongful death claims for more than just bus crashes or other motor vehicle accidents. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the following have also contributed to unintentional injuries resulting in deaths of minor children:
• Fatal falls
• Pedestrian accidents
• Bicycle crashes
In some circumstances, your child might pass because of poor medical care. This would suggest a medical malpractice claim against a doctor or other type of provider. Likewise, your child’s death might relate to negligent actions while your child is in someone else’s care.
More than likely, you already know that no amount of money can cure your feelings of loss and remorse. And, in some cases, you may not be able to hold someone else responsible for your child’s death. However, you should speak with an attorney with experience handling wrongful death claims to determine whether you can pursue a cause of action.
The Right to Pursue a Case
Since minor children do not execute wills, it’s up to the court to determine who can pursue a case arising from their death. (Adults with estate plans name legal authorities to handle their affairs after their deaths.)
Your attorney will most likely escort you to the local Surrogate’s Office to file the necessary paperwork. For Union County matters, this means going to the courthouse in Elizabeth.
The Surrogate’s Office authorizes the person entitled to bring the wrongful death claim, by issuing Letters of Administration Ad Prosequendum. Parents or the minor child’s legal guardians usually qualify for this role.
Without question, losing a child represents an unbearable event. If you have experienced this type of tragedy, the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo offers you our deepest sympathies. We would like to assist you in pursuing a claim if appropriate. Please call us to see when we can meet.