Who is at fault?
(Cherry Hill, NJ)
I was driving the speed limit at night on a dark street when I suddenly saw a pick up truck stopped in the middle of the road. I was unable to stop and struck the vehicle from behind. The pick up had a mechanical breakdown and was completely dead (no brake lights, hazard lights, nothing). Furthermore, the driver of the pick up did not place any alerts such as flares, triangles, etc.
Who is at fault in this incident? What are my options for dealing with this? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Who is at fault?":
Robert (Cherry Hill, NJ):
From the facts you present, the owner and driver of the truck would appear to have been partially negligent. However, you may also share some liability. The applicable law would be whether or not you were following too closely. If you were, then you would likely be liable for your own property damage and personal injuries.
Section 39:4-89 of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Code states:
"The driver of a vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard to the speed of the preceding vehicle and the traffic upon, and condition of, the highway."
However, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority requires drivers of vehicles which have become disabled to move the vehicles off the road to the shoulder of the road.
In your case, fault may be apportioned between you and the driver of the truck. Under New Jersey's Modified Comparative Negligence Statute, drivers involved in accidents may share fault according to the percentage of their fault, as long as the victim's percentage of fault is less than 51%.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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