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Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP

Factors That Converts an Accident To a Crime

The word “accident” is often overused. If you slip on a patch of icy sidewalk, most people would say it was an “accident.” But what if you knew it was very slippery conditions, but simply walked too fast, or perhaps you were too busy looking at your smartphone to see if someone had replied to your latest Facebook “status?” What if the patch of sidewalk you slipped on should have been kept cleared by the local authority, but in this instance, it wasn’t? Are these “accidents” or was someone at fault? In fact, accidents are rarely just accidents. There is usually a reason for the accident happening and often someone else is to blame or at least after a bit of investigation it may be found that someone else was at fault.

Then there are the accidents which really shouldn’t have happened. Someone is injured or even killed in circumstances which involve a crime being committed, even if it is not planned. This is what happened when a New York City real estate developer crashed his car last year, killing his passenger. He has just been indicted on additional criminal charges because of his actions before and after the crash.

The 42-year-old Sag Harbor man, Sean Ludwick, has been charged with a whole bevy of charges, including serious criminal offenses. He is accused of DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving, as well as a number of traffic offenses.

According to prosecutors, Ludwick drove his Porsche into a telephone pole on Rolling Hill Court East on Long Island early in the morning of August 30 last year. His passenger, a 53-year-old man also from Sag Harbor, was killed outright in the crash, but Ludwick dumped his body out of the car and drove off home. He didn’t get very far and was arrested by police when he was found next to the wreck of his Porsche on Woodvale Road. He allegedly had a blood alcohol count of 0.18%, more than twice the legal limit.

The chances of Sean Ludwick getting off lightly look pretty slim, which may bring some comfort to the family and close friends of Ludwick’s dead passenger, Paul Hansen. There is no indication at this point what the dead man’s family relationships were or whether he leaves behind dependent family members of any kind. However, in any situation in which a person has been killed as a result of what appears to be the sort of gross negligence like the example described in this article, there are likely to be people who are grieving for a lost spouse, parent or child and may be left financially much poorer as a result.

Where an “accident” of this magnitude appears relatively clear cut as to who is to blame, the family may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the person at fault. This may help to bring some emotional relief to the family and also help to provide some financial relief as well. The lawsuit will run parallel to the criminal proceedings. They are not directly connected, but the result of the criminal action may help to speed up any compensation settlement.

It is best to contact an experienced wrongful death attorney like Richard S. Jaffe Esq. of the Law Offices of Cohen & Jaffe LLP as the process of filing a claim of this type is complex and best left to a professional. Richard can be contacted for a free consultation at his office at Marcus Avenue, Suite W295, Lake Success, NY 11042. Phone: 516-358-6900 or toll free: 800-483-6149.

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