Last week a New Jersey jury awarded a several million dollar verdict to the estate of a man killed in a car accident in 2007. The alleged drunk driving accident happened on Sept. 14, 2007, on Route 35 in Middletown. An off-duty state trooper slammed into the rear of the accident victim’s sport-utility vehicle. The victim was ejected from his SUV in the accident and died as a result of the personal injuries he sustained in the crash.
The off-duty state trooper was convicted of vehicular homicide and drunk driving under a plea agreement entered in 2009. The estate of the drunk driving car accident victim also sued in civil court based upon the facts of the fatal accident. The family’s lawsuit was brought against the off-duty trooper who reportedly caused the crash, as well as two commercial establishments in Red Bank.
This blog has reported several stories about the New Jersey dram shop law. The law allows victims of drunk driving accidents to sue establishments that over serve a patron who is later involved in a car accident.
In the recent jury award, the panel apportioned the damages between the driver who caused the alcohol-related car accident and the two establishments named in the wrongful death lawsuit. In all, the family named four taverns as defendants in the suit.
The jury found the driver 57 percent at-fault in causing the accident. Two Red Bank restaurants were also held liable in the jury’s verdict. The jury found one of the establishments, a pub, 33 percent liable for the accident. The second restaurant was held 10 percent liable for the crash under the New Jersey dram shop law.