Struck by Flying Debris: NJ Man Hit by Dumbbell on Road

Photo of car accidentThe New Jersey Turnpike was shut down on the morning of January 9, 2017 after a freak accident left a driver in critical condition. The 75-year-old man was driving southbound near mile marker 6 when a 50-pound dumbbell smashed into the windshield. At present, it is not known what happened that led to the dumbbell crashing into the man’s car.

The open road is an unpredictable environment. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 39,000 personal injuries and more than 500 wrongful deaths occurred between 2011 and 2014 due to debris in the road or falling off other vehicles.

To determine liability in these cases, we must look at the individual circumstances of each crash. In cases where an object falls off a car or truck, the injured driver would look to identify which vehicle the debris came from and who was driving. Sometimes, the driver will be the at-fault party. For example, if a person is transporting furniture and fails to secure that furniture, any injuries caused by the furniture falling from the truck could be the driver’s fault. Other times, an employer could be responsible for accidents. An example of that would be if a dump truck is carrying metal scraps and the scraps fall out of the dump truck and smash someone’s windshield.

Injuries from Intentional Criminal Acts

There is a possibility that the dumbbell ended up in the road accidentally. However, there is also the chance that the dumbbell was intentionally thrown. Criminals using heavy objects to inflict pain and suffering on drivers has been a problem since even the 18th century. Some high-profile incidents involving criminal rock throwing, for example, include:

  • The 1994 murder of Sheila Mayfield, who died in Oklahoma after an assailant threw an eight-pound rock at her car.
  • The 1999 death of University of Alabama professor Julie Laible. Laible died when a criminal threw a 22-pound rock at her from an overpass.
  • The 2005 death of Chris Currie. He died when 14-year-old Ngatai Rewiti dropped an eight-pound block of concrete from an overpass.
  • The 2014-2016 serial rock throwing cases in Austin, Texas. Around 94 rocks thrown by at least three people led to several injuries and nearly killed Kenneth Johnson. Johnson suffered a massive brain injury from the attack.

In situations involving criminal activity, victims of injury are able to file a third-party injury claim against the perpetrator. This claim can help the victims seek damages for their injuries. Damages can include lost wages, decreased work capacity, pain and suffering and more. For assistance in filing your claim, discuss your case with a personal injury attorney.

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