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Death of victim can upgrade charges in car accidents

In the aftermath of a serious car accident, New Jersey prosecutors may file criminal charges against the driver believed to be responsible. However, in some car accidents, the victim ends up succumbing to the injuries he or she received in the crash. When this happens, the driver could find that the charges filed in connection with the accident are upgraded. The family of the now-deceased victim could file a wrongful death claim against that driver as well.

This could be the case in a hit-and-run accident that took place in November 2015. After the crash, the driver fled the scene. Police reviewed surveillance video from the area where it occurred and located the vehicle using its license plate.

When they found it, the SUV had severe damage to its front and windshield. The 19-year-old driver was taken into custody and charges were filed against him. His passenger also faces charges in connection with the crash because video shows that individual exiting the vehicle, looking back and then getting into the SUV, which then drove away from the scene.

In the meantime, the victim remained hospitalized throughout the investigation and was transferred from the hospital to a hospice facility in New Jersey in December. The victim remained unconscious from the date of the accident and recently died. Therefore, officials upgraded the charges against the accused driver.

The family of the 66-year-old victim has more than likely incurred a significant amount of medical expenses and other damages since the day of the accident. Now, they will have to add funeral and burial costs to that list. They retain the right to file a wrongful death claim against the party or parties believed responsible for the death of their loved one. If the evidence establishes that he died due to the negligent actions of one or more parties, an award of damages consistent with other fatal car accidents could be made.

Source: nj.com, "Charges upgraded for teen driver in fatal Jersey City hit-and-run", Patrick Villanova, feb. 17, 2016

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