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Motor Vehicle Negligence Left Turn Collision Where Host Vehicle Turned Left In Rural Area


The plaintiff driver and his passenger wife contended that the defendant negligently failed to activate her headlights, causing the collision when the host made a left turn in a rural area in which there was an absence of ambient lighting. The plaintiffs maintained that the collision occurred at 5:53 p.m on February 5, 2008 and that it was already past the time drivers were required to activate their headlights on and that after waiting for traffic to pass, the husband made the left turn, but did not see the defendant because of the absence of lights.

The plaintiff introduced meteorological records supporting the plaintiffs’ contentions that it had already become sufficiently dark to mandate headlights. The defendant, whose lights were not on, contended that the collision actually occurred at 5:43 p.m. and that there was still sufficient daylight to operate the vehicle without turning on the headlights. The defendant maintained that the cause of the accident was the negligence of the left turning plaintiff host driver. The plaintiff introduced evidence that the call to the police was made after 5:50 p.m.

The plaintiff husband maintained that he suffered a cervical herniation that was confirmed by MRI, and that despite an epidural injection, he will suffer permanent symptoms that preclude him from returning to work as a trick driver. The plaintiff passenger/wife maintained that she suffered a lumbar herniation and cervical bulge that were confirmed by MRI, and that she declined an otherwise indicated injection because this plaintiff, who was pregnant, was concerned about the potential impact on the pregnancy. Prior to trial, the wife settled with the host driver’s carrier for $9,000.

The jury found the defendant 65% negligent and the plaintiff driver 35% comparatively negligent. They then assessed gross damages of $100,00 for the driver and $50,000 for the passenger.

P. v. M., et al. Docket no. MON-L-0071-10 Judge Paul Kopalko, 01-23-12
Attorney for Plaintiff driver: David Pierguidi of Cerussi & Gunn in Shrewsbury, NJ. Attorney for plaintiff passenger: Brian Wilton of Wilton Law Firm in Tinton Falls, NJ.