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Bergen County tobacco family rocked by mother’s death

An auto accident that claims the life of a loved one may also rob a family of its primary financial support, an employer of a productive worker and/or a community of a generous contributor. Legal consequences for a negligent driver may be criminal, civil or both.

A long-time, community-involved resident of Bergen County recently died in a pedestrian accident. The 73-year-old woman and her husband, the head of a successful Fort Lee tobacco company, raised a family while residing in Englewood for more than half a century. In recent years, the wife focused her efforts on the care of her husband, who suffers from Parkinson's disease.

According to the victim's son, his mother had stopped at a dry cleaners. Police said the woman was hit by a minivan while trying to get in or out of her parked car. The van operator was a 22-year-old driver who was arrested on a reckless driving charge.

A family member's loss creates an emptiness that cannot be replaced. Survivors have to move forward through grief, emotional distress and sometimes financial devastation. Criminal prosecution may or may not offer a sense of relief. However, a settlement or successful civil liability claim can reduce worries about money.

A sudden, wrongful death is accompanied by expenses that may not be covered by insurance, like funeral arrangements and burial costs. At the same time, a family can lose a significant portion of income from lost wages that a decedent once provided.

The hardships a family faces following the preventable death of a relative are heaped one on top of the other as relatives try to recover from the loss. The mental anguish of a spouse, parent or child counts as harm in a liability case, the same way injuries and financial damages do.

Personal injury attorneys help clients assess damages and develop evidence to support a wrongful death claim.

Source:, "Englewood's Myrna Sherman, matriach of Sherman tobacco family, dies at 73" Rebecca Baker, Dec. 13, 2013

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