Many newspaper reports on traffic accidents in New Jersey describe the chronology of the accident in great detail, but many such reports end with the words, "The cause of the accident is under investigation." What is being investigated? Who is doing the investigation? Why is the investigation still underway? The answers to these questions depend upon the number of vehicles involved, where the accident happened, how many people were injured or killed and which police department has jurisdiction.
Personal injury law in New Jersey and elsewhere is based on the concept of "negligence." The law expects people to use reasonable care in their daily activities. A person who fails to use reasonable care is deemed to have been negligent, and that person is liable for the damages caused by their negligent act or omission. But what happens if both parties are negligent? Prior to the 1950s, a person whose negligence contributed to a motor vehicle accident could not recover damages from any other negligent person, even if the second person's negligence far exceeded that of the plaintiff.
State troopers in New Jersey witness a great many fatal traffic accidents in their careers, and most of them develop emotional shields to protect their sanity. Occasionally, however, the circumstances of a particular accident pierce this shield and haunt a trooper's memories for a long time. A motor vehicle accident on I-78 in Berks County had that effect on several troopers that were at the scene.
According to multiple news reports, a woman and a child were killed in Chester, New Jersey, when a tractor-trailer smashed into an SUV driven by a third person. The accident is still being investigated by law enforcement officials, but it appears that the truck driver was at fault. If that proves to be the case, the injured SUV driver may have a claim for medical expenses, lost wages, and permanent injuries. But, what about the woman and the child who were killed?
New Jersey law requires bars and other establishments that serve intoxicating beverages to assume liability if they serve someone who is obviously intoxicated and that person then becomes involved in a traffic accident. A bar in Belmar recently agreed to pay $1.5 million to the estate of a young woman who was killed in an motor vehicle accident caused by a person served by the bar.
The Association for Safe International Road Travel reports that more than 37,000 individuals nationwide lose their lives in motor vehicle crashes each year. Moreover, 2.35 million individuals suffer injuries due to auto accidents. While these statistics are certainly sobering, the statistics regarding motor vehicle accidents in New Jersey may be of greater concern to residents of the state.
Whether you are on your daily commute, running errands or taking a road trip, most drivers in New Jersey assume they will reach their destination safely. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. Every year thousands of individuals suffer injuries or lose their lives in car crashes caused by another driver's negligence.