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New Jersey man pursues legal action following wife's death

The husband of a woman who died in a pedestrian accident last summer has sued a maintenance worker for the Bridgewater-Raritan School District, contending the man is responsible for his wife's death.

The district also was named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed in late March in Somerset County Superior Court.

The woman, 52, was walking legally in a crosswalk at East Main and Grove streets in Somerville on July 31 when she was struck by a van. Her husband, who is the administrator of her estate, contends in the suit that the county worker who was behind the wheel is "legally responsible" for her death.

According to the lawsuit, the man was driving a school district-owned 2009 Ford van and failed to follow New Jersey motor vehicle laws, yield the right of way, drive at a speed safe for the conditions and observe reasonable care while driving.

The man was charged with making an improper turn, reckless driving and failing to yield. The first two charges were dropped in January in Somerville Municipal Court. He pleaded guilty to the failure to yield charge and paid less than $250 in fines and other fees.

After her death, the state Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the borough, began to work on safety improvements at the busy intersection.

The proposals for improvement including installing better signage and flashing pedestrian beacons, removing parking spaces on Main Street, taking out planters and restriping the street.

This woman's death was tragic, and even though the driver's criminal penalties were minimal, civil damages still can apply. Those facing similar circumstances may choose to pursue legal action.

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