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Michelle Zenchuk, a 49-year-old resident of Millville, along with her daughter's step-daughter, Melissa, 8, were killed in a crash when another driver slammed into the driver's side of their Toyota Camry. The driver of the Honda Civic that slammed into the side of Zenchuk's Camry, 22-year-old Christopher Platt, also died at the scene. A third occupant of Zenchuk's car, Zenchuk's 3-year-old grandchild, was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but appears to be recovering. 

At the time of the crash, Platt was leaving his job as a flagger at the nearby racetrack. A witness, Zenchuk's neighbor, reported seeing Platt's car and another car speeding along Buckshutem Road in the moments before the crash. The witness saw Platt swerve around another car, lose control of his Civic, and begin to hydroplane before hitting Zenchuk's car. Zenchuk had herself been the victim of a crash with a drunk driver on this section of road 13 years before, when her then-teenaged son was nearly killed.

The witness reported that racing down Buckshutem Road has long been a problem, possibly due to its proximity to the racetrack, and that repeated complaints have been made to municipal authorities for something to be done. Should the government be held liable for its failure to act? In order for municipal or other governmental authorities to be held liable for unsafe conditions in the State of New Jersey, claims must meet the standards included in New Jersey's Tort Claims Act. This law requires that, if a dangerous condition on public property causes an injury, governmental authorities may be held liable if the responsible public entity was aware of the dangerous condition, they had enough time to take action to repair that condition between learning of it and the accident, and failing to take action wasn't "palpably unreasonable." "Palpably unreasonable" has been defined to mean a behavior that wouldn't be acceptable under any circumstance, or a course of action of which no prudent person would approve. While the primary responsibility seems to lie with Platt for driving recklessly, it is possible that Zenchuk's family may want to file a claim against the local municipal government for failing to take action to stop cars from speeding down Buckshutem Road at unsafe speeds.

Medical bills, lost income, and the immeasurable loss of a loved one resulting from a car accident can leave a family devastated economically and emotionally. If you or a loved one have been in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your loss. Contact the New Jersey car accident attorneys at Smith & Doran for a free consultation on your claims by calling 973-292-0016.

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Smith & Gaynor, LLC
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