Decided: October 6, 1975.
IN THE MATTER OF SHEILA CARR, DECEASED
On appeal from decision of the New Jersey Violent Crimes Compensation Board.
Kolovsky, Bischoff and Botter. The opinion of the court was delivered by Bischoff, J.A.D.
[136 NJSuper Page 345] Appellants are the parents of Sheila Carr, a nine-year-old girl who was the victim of a rape-murder. They applied to the Violent Crimes Compensation Board pursuant to the provisions of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971, N.J.S.A. 52:4B-1 et seq. , for compensation for her death. The board made an allowance of $455.50 to cover the funeral bill. The parents, by this appeal, seek a remand to the board with a directive from this court that their claim for damages for the death of their daughter be evaluated on the same basis as pecuniary loss is determined when claims are made by parents for the
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death of a child under the Wrongful Death Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:31-1 et seq.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Act of 1971 was passed to provide some measure of compensation*fn1 to innocent victims of crime in certain cases. The statute provides, "The board may order the payment of compensation under this act for: * * * (c) pecuniary loss to the dependents of the deceased victim, and (d) any other pecuniary loss resulting from the personal injury or death of the victim which the board determines to be reasonable." N.J.S.A. 52:4B-12.
In the event of the death of the victim an award may be made by the board "to or for the benefit of the dependents of the deceased victim." N.J.S.A. 52:4B-10(c).
"Dependents" are defined as "such relatives of a deceased victim as were wholly or partially dependent upon his income at the time of his death * * *." N.J.S.A. 52:4B-2.
It is clear that an award of damages is only to be made to or for the benefit of "dependents of the deceased victim." Since appellants were not wholly or partially dependent upon the income of Sheila at the time of her death, under the plain terms of the statute they were not entitled to an award.
Appellants refer to N.J.S.A. 52:4B-9, which provides in part as follows:
They then argue that the effect of this section is to incorporate into this Criminal Injuries Compensation Act the
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measure of damages established in the Wrongful Death Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:31-5.*fn2 We disagree.
Had the Legislature intended that the board should measure damages under this act in the same manner as damages have been measured for many years under the Wrongful Death Act, they would have said so. By the restrictive definition of "dependents" incorporated in the act (N.J.S.A. 52:4B-2) and the inclusion of the provision that payment of compensation benefits thereunder are to be made "to or for the benefit of the dependents of the deceased victim" (N.J.S.A. 52:4B-10(c)), the Legislature expressed a contrary intent.*fn3