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Civil Model Jury Charge 5.30D VIOLATION OF TRAFFIC ACT

5.30D Violation of Traffic Act (Approved 8/99)

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/civil/civindx.html

Note to Judge

In Ewing v. Burke, 316 N.J. Super. 287 (App. Div. 1998), the Appellate Division held that the trial court committed plain error in failing to modify the model charges to include reference to a relevant motor vehicle statute that was applicable to the facts and circumstances of the particular case. The Appellate Division stated: Ordinarily, therefore, if there is evidence tending to establish that a vehicle was operated in violation of a motor vehicle statute, the statutory duty should be charged to the jury in order to assist the jury in arriving at the appropriate verdict. Id. at 294.

In this case, in support of the charge of negligence made, it is asserted that the defendant violated a provision of the motor vehicle laws. The provision referred to is known as N.J.S.A. ________ and reads as follows: ________ The statute in question has set up a standard of conduct for the users of our streets and highways. If you find that the defendant has violated that standard of conduct, such violation is evidence to be considered by you in determining whether negligence, as I have defined that term to you, has been established. You may find that such violation constituted negligence on the part of the defendant, or you may find that it did not constitute such negligence. Your finding on this issue may be based on such violation alone, but in the event that there is other or additional evidence bearing upon that issue, you will consider such violation together with all such additional evidence in arriving at your ultimate decision as to defendants negligence.

Cases:

Philips v. Scrimente, 66 N.J. Super. 157 (App. Div. 1961). The above may be modified to cover violations of certain other statutes or ordinances which set up a standard of conduct to be observed in given circumstances for the benefit of the class to which plaintiff belongs. Evers v. Davis, 86 N.J.L. 196 (E. & A. 1914); Moores Trucking Co. v. Gulf Tire & Supply Co., 18 N.J. Super. 467 (App. Div. 1952).

1. Evidence of Negligence (Approved 6/71)

In this case, in support of the charge of negligence made, it is asserted that the defendant violated a provision of the motor vehicle laws. The provision referred to is known as N.J.S.A. ____ and reads as follows: _________________.

Now the statute in question has set up a standard of conduct for the users of our streets and highways. If you find that the defendant has violated that standard of conduct, such violation is evidence to be considered by you in determining whether negligence, as I have defined that term to you, has been established. You may find that such violation constituted negligence on the part of the defendant, or you may find that it did not constitute such negligence. Your finding on this issue may be based on such violation alone, but in the event that there is other or additional evidence bearing upon that issue, you will consider such violation together with all such additional evidence in arriving at your ultimate decision as to defendants negligence.

Cases:

Philips v. Scrimente, 66 N.J. Super. 157 (App. Div. 1961). The above may be modified to cover violations of certain other statutes or ordinances which set up a standard of conduct to be observed in given circumstances for the benefit of the class to which plaintiff belongs. Evers v. Davis, 86 N.J.L. 196 (E. & A. 1914); Moores Trucking Co. v. Gulf Tire & Supply Co., 18 N.J. Super. 467 (App. Div. 1952). See numbered paragraph 2, which follows, pertaining to those cases in which the violation of a statute is negligence and not merely evidence of negligence.

2. Violation of Motor Vehicle Act is Negligence (Approved 6/71)

Defendant denies that he/she violated this section of the motor vehicle laws and makes the following contention concerning the operation of his/her motor vehicle: ____________________________________________________.


The statute in question establishes a standard of conduct for motorists using our streets and highways. If you find that defendant has violated this statute by following 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, such conduct is negligence on defendants part.

NOTE TO JUDGE

There are some cases where the violation of a section of the motor vehicle laws is negligence as a matter of law and not merely evidence of negligence. In Dolson v. Anastasia, 55 N.J. 2, 9-11 (1969), the Court held that the failure to maintain a reasonably safe distance behind the car ahead is negligence and a jury should be so instructed. . . .This does not mean however, that such conduct is only evidence of negligence because it violates a statute. In Dolson, defendant struck plaintiffs vehicle in the rear. The Court noted that defendant did not contend that plaintiff came to a sudden stop nor that he/she thought plaintiff intended to proceed slowly through the intersection rather than stop or turn. In the absence of any reasonable justification or explanation for striking plaintiff in the rear, the Court held the violation of the statute on following too closely is negligence. The Court noted further that it did not consider a binding instruction as to liability because no motion to that effect had been made at trial nor contended on appeal.

In an appropriate case it would appear that no issue would be presented for the jury as to defendants negligence, once proof of the violation of a particular motor vehicle statute has been established without evidence to explain such violation. In some cases, however, an issue may be presented for the jury as to whether a violation occurred or whether an adequate explanation is to be found in the evidence. In such a case where the particular statute violated requires a conclusion of negligence the jury should be instructed as follows:

In this case, plaintiff argues that defendant was negligent because defendant violated a provision of the motor vehicle laws. The provision referred to, N.J.S.A. 39:4-89, is as follows:

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.

   
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Since 1985, KENNETH VERCAMMEN has worked as a personal injury attorney, working for injury victims and their families. By taking a hard-hitting, aggressive approach toward the insurance companies, KENNETH VERCAMMEN and our co-counsel have consistently obtained outstanding results for many injured clients over the years I am proud to have worked on cases in various capacities, small and large. While obviously prior results cannot guarantee the outcome of future cases, I can guarantee that you case will receive the same degree of dedication and hard work that went into each of these prior cases.

In direct contrast to the hard-hitting approach we take toward the insurance companies is the soft approach we take toward our clients. I am proud of my compassionate staff as I am of the outstanding financial results they have achieved. For many years, I have watched them treat our clients with patience, dignity and respect. I would have it no other way.

Many years ago, I attended a seminar sponsored by the American Bar Association on Law Practice Management. This was to help insure that each of our clients is always treated like a person -- not a file! We recognize that you are innocent victims and that you have placed your trust in us. Please understand that we understand what you are going through. Feel comforted that we are here to help you.

If you retain KENNETH VERCAMMEN to represent you, we will give you the same advice we give each of our clients -- concentrate on your life, you family and your health. We will take care of everything else. Leave all of the work and worry about your legal rights to us. Trust us. Believe in us. Have faith in us as your attorneys. Understand that we will always to do what we believe is best for you and your case. Helping you is our job. In fact, it is our only job -- guiding injury victims like you through one of the most difficult times of your lives, with care and concern -- while fighting aggressively to the limits of the law to obtain compensation and justice for each of you!

Print our Personal Injury Questionnaire on our Website, Fill it out and Fax back, so we can determine if we can help you obtain an injury settlement. We would welcome an opportunity to prove to you what we have proven to thousands of injured clients -- that you can feel comfortable and secure in the fact that KENNETH VERCAMMEN - Trial Attorney We Fight To Win.

When you have been injured in an accident or collision, you are worried about who is going to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. The last thing you want is to be taken advantage of by an insurance company. If you dont protect your rights, you may not be able to make a claim.

Insurance companies have attorneys and adjusters whose goal is to pay you as little as they can. You need a New Jersey personal injury lawyer to fight for you. I am dedicated to helping your recover as much money as possible under the law.

You need an attorney who will work hard to protect your rights, maximize your insurance settlement and minimize the hassles of dealing with the insurance companies. You need an experienced and aggressive New Jersey trial lawyer with PROVEN RESULTS who will fight for you. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer can make the difference between getting what you deserve and getting nothing.

Without the threat of a lawyer who is willing to go to trial and seek a big jury verdict, why would an insurance company pay you what your claim is really worth? Lawsuits can be expensive, and many people do not have the money to pursue their claim. In every case, I advance all costs associated with pursuing your case and I do not ask you for a penny until we recover from the other side.

I am an experienced aggressive trial lawyer and a 3rd degree Black Belt. I am not afraid to take your case to trial if that is what it takes to maximize the amount of money your recover for your personal injury. I offer one-on-one service, and I will not hand your case off to an inexperienced lawyer or a paralegal.

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p.s. For those clients who are afraid or reluctant to go to Court, KENNETH VERCAMMEN also offers a special -- For Settlement Only -- program. This means that if we are unable to settle with the insurance company, we will not go any further -- unless you want us to. You have my personal assurance that there will be absolutely no pressure and no obligation.

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Kenneth A. Vercammen is the Managing Attorney at Kenneth Vercammen & Associates in Edison, NJ. He is a New Jersey trial attorney has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appeared in Courts throughout New Jersey each week on personal injury matters, Criminal /Municipal Court trials, and contested Probate hearings.

Mr. Vercammen has published over 125 legal articles in national and New Jersey publications on criminal, elder law, probate and litigation topics. He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation issues for the American Bar Association, NJ ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published in noted publications included New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer. He is the Editor in Chief of the American Bar Association Tort and Insurance Committee Newsletter.

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