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Cop who drove in fatal accident faces charges

A post from March concerned a tragic car accident in which three Linden police officers and a friend were in a car that was heading in the wrong direction on the West Shore Expressway when it crashed, killing two of the occupants. The operator of the car in that fatal accident was a police officer who now faces aggravated vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges under New York law. The case was well-publicized because of the circulation of photos of the officers drinking at a strip club prior to the accident.

Recently, the driver's attorney argued in court that his client was likely drugged with a date-rape drug by strippers prior to the accident. This was allegedly done to get the men to spend more on private dances. Further proceedings in the criminal case will determine the viability of that rather unlikely defense theory.

Whether he has a criminal defense, he is likely liable to the families of the two decedents and to the injured person for monetary damages. The surviving passenger was a police officer who was critically injured and is still recovering. The standard of proof necessary in a civil case for monetary damages is significantly less demanding than the 'beyond a reasonable doubt' test in a criminal case.

Furthermore, the driver pleaded guilty to at least one prior drunk driving case and had been charged in another. Because of the substantial economic damages, it is somewhat unlikely that the young officer has an insurance policy with enough coverage to cover the liability claims. In that event, the victims' own policies may pay out if there is underinsured motorists' coverage available.

Additionally, given the operator's prior drunk driving record, it is possible that the victims of this fatal accident may also have a claim against the police department for negligent hiring and other counts. The plaintiffs' personal injury attorneys will thoroughly research the issue to make sure that their clients obtain the maximum compensation available under New York law. In wrongful death situations, an injury and wrongful death attorney will be qualified by experience to seek a recovery of all funds legally available.

Source: nj.com, "Linden cop in wrong-way crash may have been drugged by strippers, lawyer says", Tom Haydon and Jessica Remo, Oct. 29, 2015

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