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The wheels of justice turn slowly after some car accidents

New Jersey victims of crashes, along with their families, sometimes have to wait months or even years for the wheels of justice to turn. For example, building a criminal case in alcohol-related car accidents often takes time since laboratory testing does not always receive priority attention. In addition, even after a prosecutor decides to proceed, a grand jury indictment might also be required, which takes even more time.

This is the case in a deadly crash that took place on Aug. 27, 2015. A vehicle, which was driven by a 29-year-old man, careened across the centerline of Route 209 and slammed into a 29-year-old teacher who was jogging. The vehicle then crashed into several trees before flipping. The jogger died from the injuries she suffered when she was struck, and so did the 31-year-old passenger in the vehicle after he was thrown partially out of the car.

The driver suffered injuries severe enough to warrant him being taken from the scene by helicopter. Nearly a year later, authorities determined through their investigation that he was high on marijuana at the time of the accident. It took nearly a year for prosecutors to file charges, and a grand jury indictment was only received in March. The families of the victims still do not know whether they will see justice on behalf of their loved ones through the criminal courts.

In similar circumstances, New Jersey's civil courts could also provide some sense of justice for those left behind. State law allows for surviving family members of the victims of deadly car accidents to file wrongful death claims, seeking restitution for financial damages. Should it be proved to the court that the death was caused by the negligence of another, a monetary judgment could be ordered by the court.

Source: nj.com, "Man accused of DUI indicted in crash that killed 2", Rebecca Everett, March 30, 2017

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