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Family of New Jersey accident victim could sue actress at fault

The husband and son of a New Jersey woman who was killed in a 2010 car accident could decide to file a civil lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash. That driver happens to be an actress best known for her role on the TV series "Melrose Place." Amy Locane-Bovenizer, a Trenton native, was convicted of vehicular homicide last November and sentenced this week to three years in prison.

The crash happened when the actress' SUV struck another vehicle that was turning into a driveway. She was accused of driving with a blood alcohol level that was three times the legal limit. She was also going more than 20 mph over the speed limit at the time. The accident killed the turning vehicle's front-seat passenger, a 60-year-old woman. Her husband, who was driving, suffered serious injuries.

Locane-Bovenizer's attorneys argued that the man driving the other car was partially at fault for making a slow turn into the driveway, a claim that was apparently rejected by the jury. The defense also blamed another car that had honked at the actress and chased her vehicle after being rear-ended. But in a statement she read at her sentencing hearing, Locane-Bovenizer apologized to the victim's family and said she took full responsibility for the accident. She was sentenced to three years in prison, a far cry from the maximum 10 she could have faced. The judge said he took into consideration the actress' two young children, one of whom suffers from physical and intellectual disabilities.

But the victim's husband was outraged, calling the sentence a travesty. Her son was just as angry, telling the judge that the sentence was unjust. Considering the emotional and physical pain they've suffered -- not to mention the financial costs of laying a loved one to rest -- the family is well within their rights to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit. While many accident victims and their families have a difficult time collecting awards won in civil lawsuits, the defendant's career as an actress could provide the compensation the victim's family so richly deserves.

Source: The Reporter, "'Melrose' actress gets 3 years for deadly NJ crash," Rema Rahman, Feb. 14, 2013

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