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Police: Car damage helped identify New Jersey hit-and-run driver

A Bergen County driver’s response to being in a traffic accident is extremely important. Drivers in car accidents have obligations to fulfill, including calling for emergency help and aiding injured victims. Drivers may not intend to cause a crash but, if they flee the scene, it’s clear a conscious decision is made.

New Jersey state troopers and Morris County authorities recently worked together on a Rockaway Township hit-and-run case. Police were contacted about the late night accident on Route 46. A male pedestrian’s fatal injuries indicated he had been struck and killed.

There was no driver at the scene. A short time later, troopers found a broken down vehicle along Route 80. Authorities said the vehicle’s front end had been damaged, which matched the type of injuries the pedestrian received. An arrest was made.

The initial charges against the 26-year-old male driver did not include DUI, although a trooper reported smelling alcohol on the defendant. Police also noted other signs that the driver might be intoxicated.

The man was charged with knowingly leaving a fatal accident scene, death by auto and first-degree aggravated manslaughter, with bail set at $350,000. Aggravated manslaughter, under New Jersey statute 2C: 11-4, is a homicide committed with indifference to another person’s life, punishable by up to 30 years in prison. The charge is also applied when a person attempts to hide from authorities after causing a death.

On the other side of a hit-and-run accident are injured victims or families who’ve lost loved ones. Drivers who flee from crash scenes hide from the responsibilities that belong to every driver who harms someone else. Criminal and civil penalties are worse for drivers who run than those who own up to the damage they’ve done.

In accident liability claims, proof that a defendant knowingly abandoned an injured victim is enough to warrant punitive damages, in addition to compensation for actual losses.

Source: NJ.com, “Man struck, killed pedestrian in Rockaway Township hit-and-run, prosecutor says” Meghan Shapiro Hodgin, Feb. 24, 2014

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