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New Jersey man faces wrongful death suit for hit-and-run accident

A resident of Nutley has been sentenced to a five-year prison sentence for vehicular homicide in connection with a hit-and-run accident that occurred in Belleville in 2011. The 44-year-old man admitted to hitting a woman with his car in September of that year, and then leaving the scene of the accident.

The victim, a 48-year-old woman, was the widow of a former Essex County judge and also worked for the court system. Because of this relationship with the Essex County Court, the criminal case was prosecuted in Union County.

The victim’s family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the woman’s children, alleging that they have been denied their mother’s nurturing, maintenance and support. The civil suit names as defendants the driver who was sentenced, the county of Essex and the State of New Jersey. The state and county are named because the suit claims that the area of the road where the accident occurred created a dangerous and hazardous condition.

In New Jersey, surviving family members of someone who died as a result of another’s negligence are entitled to bring a wrongful death suit to recover monetary damages for their loss. Because a wrongful death suit is a civil suit, the defendant’s negligence need be proved only by a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt as in a criminal case. In this case, the the defendant admitted he hit the victim with his vehicle and that he did not stop to render assistance at the scene. These admissions will probably be admissible against him in the civil case.

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