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Pedestrian and motorcyclist fatalities in New Jersey

If you or someone in your family rides a motorcycle in New Jersey, you have good reason to be concerned about the actions of drivers in other vehicles. The same holds true for pedestrians and the reality is that anyone can be a pedestrian at different times, not just those who walk or jog for exercise. Even walking across a parking lot makes one a pedestrian at that moment and makes them vulnerable to serious injuries if hit by a car, truck or sport utility vehicle.

According to records from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of pedestrians and motorcyclists killed in accidents in New Jersey jumped dramatically from 2016 to 2017. In 2016, 163 pedestrians died after being hit by motor vehicles. The following year, that number jumped by 20 to 183. Motorcyclists experienced two consecutive years where the number of bikers hit and killed rose. In 2015, 50 motorcyclist fatalities were recorded. The following two years, there were 71 and then 83 biker deaths on New Jersey roads.

In Ocean County, the experience has been similar. In 2016, two motorcyclists and eight pedestrians died. In 2017, the county recorded five biker deaths and 13 pedestrian deaths. In these two years, 94 people died in all accidents in the county.

If you would like to learn more about the risks faced by people on motorcycles or on foot in New Jersey and how to seek help after being hit by a driver in a passenger or commercial vehicle, please feel free to visit the motorcycle and pedestrian crash page of our New Jersey personal injury website. 

Understanding negligent entrustment

For those in Toms River that have been involved in motor vehicle accidents, perhaps nothing is more disheartening to learn that their insurance payout will not be enough to cover their accident expenses. In such cases, people may feel as though they have little choice but to take legal action against the drivers that caused their collisions in order to earn compensation. However, in those instances where a crash was caused by a blatantly negligent, reckless or incompetent driver, the odds of such a driver having adequate insurance coverage themselves may be slim. So what are accident victims to do at this point? 

The legal philosophy of negligent entrustment allows car accident victims to assign vicarious liability to parties who may have loaned their vehicles to poor drivers. The logic behind this concept of shared liability is that the vehicle owners had to have known (or should have known) that the people they were borrowing their cars to were either irresponsible or incompetent behind the wheel. Even with this knowledge, however, they loaned out their vehicles anyway, thus inadvertently putting others at risk. Indeed, New Jersey state courts had recognized for years in the their rulings that entrusting a vehicle to one who lacks legal authority or competence to operate is considered to be negligence. 

Yet the state’s opinion on the matter changed slightly in 2018. A bill introduced during the state’s legislative session for that year amended the state’s stance on negligent entrustment to apply it only in cases where vehicle owners loaned a vehicle to one known to not have a drivers’ license. While this may limit the citing of this concept in court cases, it may make applying it easier to prove (for records can be shown proving that one does not have a license).

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