On the night of Feb. 9, icy road surfaces on the New Jersey Turnpike in Cranbury caused two tractor trailers to swing out of control as they attempted to slow down to avoid accidents. The resulting accidents included 40 vehicles in total and killed one 52-year-old Bordentown man.
A former first-aid worker from Middlesex County stopped as he was heading north to assist in treating the injured people. He stated that the speed limit was 65 mph and that he had not seen any salt trucks for his entire 45-minute commute. He did not realize that the roads were icy until he stepped out of his vehicle on the shoulder.
According to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, the responsibility for treating this section of the turnpike belonged to turnpike workers and not contractors. They had only 15 plows and salt spreaders on the road on Monday night because they were six employees short of their hiring goal for new maintenance positions. The New Jersey Department of Transportation commissioner reportedly ordered the Turnpike Authority to review the accident along with its winter operations procedures to determine whether they could have prevented the accident.
In car accidents involving icy conditions, determining which parties were at fault can be difficult. If the Turnpike Authority did not adequately treat the roads and failed to post warning signs about the ice, they may share some responsibility for the accident.
The family of the deceased in a similar situation may be able to file a wrongful death claim against any at-fault parties for their loss, which could include compensation for funeral expenses, lost wages and even loss of companionship in some cases. An attorney could assist in preparing this claim and determining what types of compensation to include in it.
Source: New Jersey 101.5, "Fatal NJ Turnpike crash scene had been treated by state crews, not contractors," Dan Alexander, Feb. 12, 2015