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Can negligent driving give rise to criminal and civil liability?


Given the massive structures on many New Jersey construction sites, it's perhaps not surprising that accounts of occasional accidents may appear in the media. Yet sometimes the cause of a construction or workplace accident is not from heavy machinery or conditions onsite, but due to the actions of passerby drivers or pedestrians.

In a recent example, a New Jersey Department of Transportation official was critically injured while working on a three-truck DOT debris-removal detail. The worker was removing debris on I-80. Unfortunately, a 38-year-old New Jersey driver on the interstate may not have allowed enough room to pass the DOT workers and vehicles. He entered the shoulder, lost control, and ultimately struck the concrete barrier, two DOT trucks and pinned a DOT worker underneath his Chevrolet Malibu.

As readers may know, New Jersey's Move Over Law requires motorists, when possible, to give a lane's width to construction or emergency vehicles stopped on the road. When a traffic violation results in injuries, both criminal and civil liabilities may attach to the negligent driver. In today's story, the driver was charged with reckless driving and improper passing, among other charges.

A heroic rescue effort by a two-truck driver who came upon the accident scene may have saved the life of the DOT worker. However, the extent of the DOT worker's injuries remains unclear. He may require long-term care or other assistance, in addition to immediate medical bills. His earning potential may never be the same.

With the help of a personal injury attorney, the worker can bring a civil claim for personal injuries against the negligent driver, seeking compensation for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical costs, and any other damages. An attorney can also review any other forms of assistance, such as potential workers' compensation assistance for the DOT worker.