If you think you’ve noticed an uptick in reckless driving on New Jersey roadways during the pandemic, your suspicions are correct. What’s worse, this disturbing trend has led to a spike in traffic-related fatalities on our roads and highways. According to reporting in the final weeks of 2021, New Jersey saw 633 traffic deaths and 207 pedestrian deaths; this was the highest number of traffic deaths in the state since 1989. At the time of this writing, the final days of February 2022, New Jersey has already seen 92 traffic fatalities; these numbers are always climbing, and you can see the most up-to-date data for yourself online from the New Jersey State Police. At Buttafuoco & Associates, our Northern New Jersey wrongful death attorneys have seen a significantly higher number of wrongful death cases from these serious accidents.
Why the Increase in Car Wrecks?
Just like supply chain problems and staffing shortages, the increase in reckless driving is, at least in part, an unexpected result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts originally speculated that traffic deaths would decline during 2021 as lockdowns and increases in remote work meant fewer cars on the road. At the time, it seemed obvious that there would be fewer traffic accidents and fatalities but this has been far from the truth.
Reporting from the New York Times on recent increases in pedestrian deaths outlines the key factors that have caused the increase:
- Increased anxiety: The looming, seemingly unending threat of Covid-19, along with the precautions to protect friends, neighbors, and family, has left everyone’s nerves frayed. Experts note that this can lead to a disrupted assessment of risk. In other words, the risks of the pandemic overshadow other dangers, leading to other risky behavior, such as speeding and reckless driving.
- Disrupted social norms: Covid-19 measures have led to greater isolation,and the more isolated and anxious we become, the more likely we are to take out our anger on others. This has caused drivers to become combative or even violent toward other drivers.
- Increased drinking: Alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic, so much so that studies project that this will lead to an increase in liver disease and deaths. Unsurprisingly, this has led to more impaired driving, and therefore more accidents and deaths.
When is an Accident a Wrongful Death Case?
Under New Jersey law, a wrongful death is defined as a death that is the result of a “wrongful act, neglect or default.” In the case of a fatal traffic accident, this means that the other driver’s negligence led directly to the death of the plaintiff’s relative.
Wrongful death cases work similarly to personal injury cases, except they are brought on behalf of the deceased. In New Jersey, spouses, children and grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews, or other dependents of the deceased may file the case.
It’s important to keep in mind that in New Jersey, there is a two-year statute of limitations on civil cases. A Northern New Jersey wrongful death attorney will inform you that this two-year period begins from the date of death, rather than the date of the incident; if an individual died later as a result of injuries sustained from the traffic accident, for example, the clock begins from the date of death.
Working with a qualified personal injury attorney is the best way to build a strong case to prove that the other driver’s behavior was negligent and that they are responsible for your loved one’s death.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you lost a loved one in a traffic accident, you may have a wrongful death case, and a Buttafuoco & Associates wrongful death lawyer in Northern New Jersey can assist you in delivering a successful deposition and recovering damages that you are entitled to.
Even if you’re unsure if your case qualifies, we recommend reaching out to a lawyer as soon as possible; Buttafuoco & Associates attorneys specialize in both wrongful death cases and traffic accidents, and are committed to fighting for your rights while treating you like family.
Get in touch with us today at 1-800-NOW-HURT.