State of New Jersey Settles With Man Injured After Collision With Drunk State Trooper

By Greg Kohn

Does the Tort Claims Act prevent personal injury recovery following an accident with a police officer?

The New Jersey Tort Claims Act works to address the constitutional immunity of government actors accused of negligence or reckless conduct while on the job. While it imparts significant limitations on a possible recovery amount, it is actually beneficial for plaintiffs as opposed to the alternative full-immunity offered in the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions.

However, just because a plaintiff can recover against a government actor such as a police officer does not necessarily mean the endeavor will be easy – as was the case prior to a recent settlement between a Philadelphia plaintiff and the New Jersey State Police.

According to allegations, the victim was driving during pre-dawn hours in 2009 when he was suddenly and forcefully struck from behind by an oncoming vehicle on New Jersey’s Interstate 295 in Camden County. The driver of the other vehicle happened to be an off-duty police officer, however other responding officers refused to reveal his identity, and even used his undercover alias on police reports.

Not surprisingly, the victim had a difficult time unearthing the true identity of the trooper involved, and was not able to reveal his actual name until a Star-Ledger investigation ensued two years later. From there, the entire incident unraveled to reveal that the trooper registered a .27 BAC following the crash – which was measured by the hospital staff where he was treated for broken bones. The officer was ultimately indefinitely suspended from the force, and is currently facing several counts including reckless driving and assault with a vehicle.

Meanwhile, the victim has received a $150,000 settlement from the New Jersey Attorney General’s office. The other officers involved in the alleged cover-up have not been removed from the force, and any punishment imposed was kept confidential.

If you were recently injured in New Jersey and would like to discuss your options, please do not hesitate to contact the personal injury attorneys at Nagel Rice as soon as possible! For an appointment, dial: 973-618-0400.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.