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Questions remain unanswered for New Jersey officer's widow

When a family loses a loved one in a car accident, it's a moment in time that changes everything. Initially, there may be one word on their minds: why. Soon more questions begin to swirl around, and it's the answers that will help them recover and move on.

Seeking financial recompense may be a way to get those answers, particularly if the alleged at-fault party is resisting. When there are injuries involved in a car crash, New Jersey law dictates what a victim can recover. For example, a personal injury claim can't include requests for emotional pain and suffering compensation. An exception to that rule, however, is when a wrongful death occurs.

It might be that a Burlington County widow who is seeking answers and accountability for the loss of her husband will find a lawsuit is the way to get them. According to reports, she alleges the man responsible for the auto accident is a police officer connected to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office. She claims motor vehicle records show from 1989 to 2013, he had at least six traffic accidents, some of which are suggested to be alcohol-related. The 61-year-old hasn't been charged with DUI or other motor vehicle crimes to date.

Reportedly, the current accident investigation shows on July 27, 2013, the victim, also a policeman, lost control of his motorcycle and landed in the opposite lane of traffic. The alleged at-fault officer, driving a pickup truck, hit him. Reports show he called 911, but didn't mention he was the one who hit the victim. Further reports show he had been drinking throughout the day. Allowed to leave the scene by responding police, he did submit to a blood test six hours after the accident.

With allegations of omitting the accident and alcohol history of the officer from the police investigation and considering his position as part of the prosecution team, the victim's widow has concerns about accountability and liability. She has reportedly asked the New Jersey Attorney General to investigate.

This case involves a tremendous amount of investigative evidence and complex conflict of interest issues. Careful legal evaluation will help this family decide which options are best suited to their needs. Wrongful death claims against municipalities can be time-consuming. But when a family needs to recover from a tragedy, it may be time well spent.

Source: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Moorestown officer’s widow seeks answers in fatal crash" Barbara Boyer, Oct. 07, 2014

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Gary D. Ginsberg is a Certified Civil Trial Lawyer who has been recognized as an expert in litigating cases in the courts of New Jersey.

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