At 4:00 a.m. on August 24, an NYPD off-duty officer crashed into the rear end of a Honda. The Honda’s driver Vanessa Raghubar, her sister Maria Raghubar and Maria’s boyfriend, Justin Harricharra were returning from celebrating Maria’s 21st birthday. Vanessa had refused to drink any alcohol when toasting her sister because she was the designated driver.
The cars were traveling on the Van Wyck Expressway, southbound at Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park. Weather conditions were foggy.
Vanessa, the 22-year old driver, died from her injuries early Monday after being rushed to Jamaica Hospital. She was a psychology student and talented artist. She attended York College and would have graduated in June.
Her sister Maria was also rushed to Jamaica Hospital where staff evaluated that she was in critical condition and surgeons worked to save her life. She had a broken pelvis, smashed bladder and damaged intestine.
Justin suffered from brain, back and spinal injuries.
According to ABC7, the off-duty policeman, Neville Smith was charged with vehicular assault, assault, DWI and refusal to take a breath test. He is also suspended from duty.
In a rear end accident, the driver who rear ends the vehicle in front is typically liable for the accident. If the court determines the officer was driving while intoxicated, such a finding would also point to his liability.
In this case, it looks like the Raghubar family has a civil cause of action to pursue damages for the wrongful death of their daughter and for the serious injuries incurred by their other daughter.
If you suffer serious injury or a loved one dies through the fault of another driver in a car accident, seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Attorneys will advise you how to deal with insurance companies and guide you through the legal process.