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Off-duty police officers run from car accidents, too

When it comes to obeying traffic laws and driving, law enforcement officials are often held to a higher standard since they are the ones who are responsible for enforcing the laws while on duty. Despite the expectations of New Jersey residents, whether they are on duty or off duty, they are just as likely to get into car accidents as anyone else. What is not expected, however, is that an officer would flee the scene of an accident -- especially when someone is injured.

Unfortunately, that is what officials say happened in June 2015. At around 8:25 p.m. on June 16 of last year, a pedestrian was struck, but the driver responsible did not remain at the scene or render aid to the victim. When emergency personnel arrived, the victim was still alive and was taken to a hospital in the area.

Despite the efforts of medical personnel at the hospital, the 23-year-old man succumbed to the injuries he suffered when he was hit. An investigation was begun in order to locate the vehicle and driver believed to be responsible for the accident. The Vehicular Homicide Unit for the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office determined that the driver was an off-duty Paterson police officer. The 30-year-old officer was recently indicted on charges relating to the incident.

Now that he has been identified, the family of the victim may exercise its right to file a wrongful death claim against him. Any evidence that prosecutors intend to present to the court in the criminal case could be offered to establish negligence in a New Jersey civil court. If it is ruled that the officer's actions caused or contributed to the victim's death, the family could be awarded damages seen in these types of car accidents.

Source: nj.com, "Paterson cop indicted following fatal hit-and-run last year", Paul Milo, March 31, 2016

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