When you get into the passenger’s seat of a vehicle, you put your life in the hands of the driver. Most people never think twice about this, but a serious accident can change everything. After crashing into the back of a semi-truck, a New Jersey driver was arrested on multiple charges. The implication is clear: He is being accused of killing his own passenger due to his alleged negligence behind the wheel. If someone you love was killed while riding alongside a negligent driver, you might be intent on pursuing justice. While criminal charges can help families achieve closure, wrongful death lawsuits in New Jersey could also be possible. 

Driver Faces Second-Degree Death by Auto After Causing Passenger’s Death

Driver Arrested After Killing His Own Passenger in New JerseyIn May of 2024, it was reported that a driver in New Jersey had been arrested and charged with numerous offenses in connection to a deadly crash. The incident occurred about one month prior when the driver crashed into the back of a semi-truck at a high rate of speed. The Pennsauken Police Department responded to the crash and found two seriously injured individuals in an extremely damaged vehicle. While the driver survived after transport to a nearby hospital, the passenger remained trapped inside the wreckage and ultimately perished from his wounds. 

A subsequent police investigation determined that the driver was speeding before the crash. There are no further details on the speeding offense, but one can assume that the driver was traveling at a velocity much higher than the posted speed limit. The severity of his criminal charges implies serious, reckless negligence before the crash. Police may have examined tire marks at the scene of the crash to determine the vehicle’s final velocity. Not only was he charged with second-degree death by auto, but he was also issued numerous motor vehicle citations. 

This is likely an example of an “underriding” truck accident in which a smaller sedan slips underneath the rear trailer. This type of rear impact can shear off the top section of vehicles, ultimately causing catastrophic injuries for occupants. 

Second-degree death by auto may lead to a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. There is also a potential fine of up to $200,000. While these criminal charges could provide the family of the deceased individual with some form of closure, they cannot turn back time. Perhaps more importantly, seeing the defendant behind bars will not help them pay for funeral costs, lost wages, and other damages. 

Can I Sue a Driver for Killing a Passenger in New Jersey?

You can sue a driver for causing the death of a passenger in New Jersey. This type of lawsuit falls under the general category of “wrongful death,” and it can cover various damages unique to the loss of loved ones. Perhaps the most notable damage is funeral costs. The average cost for a funeral in the modern era is many thousands of dollars, and a wrongful death lawsuit helps ensure a proper ceremony for your loved one. 

In addition, a wrongful death lawsuit can provide compensation for future missed wages. This type of damage is especially important for dependents who are left without vital financial support. For example, your husband may have been killed while riding as a passenger. By filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you can recover compensation for what your spouse would have earned during the rest of their life. This financial support can help you pay living expenses and feed your children. 

A wrongful death lawsuit can also provide compensation for unpaid medical expenses. Although the victim of the recent New Jersey truck accident was trapped inside the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, many mortally wounded victims receive hospital treatment before passing. The cost of this treatment falls on surviving family members, and these hospital bills can be quite high. A wrongful death lawsuit helps you cover these unpaid costs, ensuring limited financial burdens for surviving loved ones. 

Find an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer in New Jersey

Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. can help those considering wrongful death lawsuits in New Jersey. We understand how traumatic and life-altering fatal crashes can be. If you believe that the driver of the vehicle was to blame for your loved one’s death, you might be right. In this situation, it may be possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. If the driver is already being charged with criminal offenses in connection to your loved one’s death, this is a clear indication of negligence. To discuss your legal options in more detail, book a consultation with us today

The firm’s principals, Gabriel R. Lependorf and David E. Silverstein, have each been representing injured victims in the State of New Jersey for over thirty years.

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