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New Jersey Man Files Lawsuit in Death of Teen Daughter

Two cars in a wreck

A Vineland man has recently filed a lawsuit for both the wrongful death of his child, as well as the emotional distress caused to his two surviving children who witnessed the accident. The father of a 14-year-old girl who was killed filed a lawsuit arising from a fatal accident occurring at 6:50 a.m. on the morning of October 30, 2013. His daughter and her twin brother and sister were required to cross a busy street to reach their bus stop. As they crossed the street in the dark, a driver struck the 14-year-old, sending her into the opposite lane of traffic. She was then struck by another driver. The two siblings were not physically injured. The girl was taken to a local hospital, but did not survive. Both drivers received citations, but neither driver faced criminal charges for their involvement in the crash.

The father claims in a civil lawsuit filed in Cumberland County Superior Court that the motorists were driving negligently on the morning of the accident, resulting in the 14-year-old’s death, and causing permanent and serious emotional distress to the surviving children. The lawsuit also names the Vineland Board of Education as a defendant, claiming that the school board failed to uphold its duty to keep students safe and provide a safe bus transportation policy by forcing students to cross a busy road to reach their stop. The suit alleges that the school board knew or should have known that compelling children to cross the street in the pre-dawn hours could lead to serious injury or death. The children’s father also claims that the City of Vineland failed to provide sufficiently safe crossing conditions on the street where the accident occurred, even after being made aware of the danger posed by the crossing, making the city partially responsible for the wrongful death and emotional harm. Claims against governmental entities are complex because of the statutory immunities afforded them by the state legislature.

In a lawsuit where the plaintiff claims that the defendant was negligent, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove that the defendant was legally required to meet a duty to the plaintiff, i.e., that the defendant needed to act or refrain from acting in a particular way toward the plaintiff. For example, in a claim against the driver responsible for a car accident, the plaintiff may claim that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff to drive safely and attentively, and that the breach of that duty resulted in a fatal crash. However, sometimes the parties may disagree on what duty the defendant owed to the plaintiff. Hypothetically, the City of Vineland may argue that they did not have a duty to make the crosswalk safer than it already was, claiming they had already provided sufficient marking and lighting at the site of the crosswalk. The attorney representing the plaintiff will need to rely on past New Jersey case law where judges set forth a city’s duty to ensure pedestrian safety when crossing a street, as well as how much lighting, reflective material, or signage was required to make a crosswalk sufficiently safe. Finding the right attorney experienced in personal injury claims against similar defendants, including governmental entities, is essential to recovering all damages the plaintiff is owed for the harm caused by the defendant’s failings.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a traffic accident or hit and run accident, contact experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney Andrew R. Jacobs for a consultation, at 973-532-9681.

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