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Estate of New Jersey teen killed in crash files notice of claim

Statutes of limitation are legal time limits. Plaintiffs in Bergen County liability cases must act in a timely manner for a case to be considered valid. A two-year filing deadline is set in most, but not all, claims for personal injury and wrongful death, under New Jersey statute 2A: 31.

A high school student died after being struck by two cars in Vineland on Oct. 30. The 14-year-old girl was crossing the street, making her way to a school bus stop, when the auto accident occurred. A notice of claim was filed on Jan. 27, the final day before the legal window closed to notify the court of an impending wrongful death lawsuit.

The claim blames the City of Vineland, county, the victim's school district and the drivers for the teen's pain and suffering and subsequent death. The girl's estate requested $5 million in damages, although the claim stated the amount was approximate.

The fatality investigation by Vineland police remains open. The notice of claim stated the school district had not yet complied with a request to provide documents about policies the estate requested. The district was faulted in the filing with lacking a policy addressing student safety on busy streets; it was still dark on the morning the girl suffered fatal injuries.

The local governments are blamed for ignoring the need for stronger traffic controls at the intersection. Officials discussed options to make the intersection safer but not until after the student died. Insurers now have six months to investigate the case before the teen's estate can take further action.

The legal filing clock starts to tick beginning on the date of a car accident injury or death. Statute of limitation laws are restrictive for plaintiffs making complaints against governments or associated public entities. A notice of claim, the intent to file a lawsuit, must take place quickly -- within 90 days.

Source: South Jersey Times, "Late Vineland High School student Alexa Strittmatter's estate files 'wrongful death' tort claim" Don E. Woods, Mar. 04, 2014

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