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Charges in some car accidents could take years to be filed

Some families have to wait years before criminal proceedings are initiated against the person or persons believed to have caused the death of a loved one. There are numerous reasons why charges may be delayed in car accidents. For one New Jersey family, it took almost four years to the day for charges to be filed against the man who authorities believe is responsible for their family member's death. The 29-year-old man now faces charges of homicide by vehicle and two counts of vehicular assault.

The accident occurred on Oct. 1, 2011 at approximately 1 a.m. Reports indicate that the accused driver blew through a stop sign and crashed into the victim's car, which was occupied by the driver, a 60-year-old man, and his girlfriend, who is now 65 years old. The impact was forceful enough to throw the victim out of his car and kill him.

His girlfriend survived, but she has pins in her ankle and walks with a limp. She also has limited use of her right hand, which shakes. The Connecticut driver facing criminal charges had a passenger in his vehicle, who also suffered unknown injuries.

The New Jersey statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death claims is two years, so waiting for prosecutors to file criminal charges is not advisable since car accident victims can establish negligence through independent evidence. If negligence is proved, the court may award damages to defray the financial losses incurred in the aftermath of car accidents. Even though law enforcement authorities took four years to file criminal charges against the driver, the family of the deceased as well as the injured victims had at least two years from the date of the accident to file civil claims for financial relief.

Source:, "After 4 years, family sees charges in Westfield crash that killed father", Tom Haydon, Nov. 23, 2015

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