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New Jersey city may fight injured pedestrian

A woman who formerly served as a lifeguard on two Sea Isle City beaches was involved in an accident as she went from one work location to the other. In the summer of 2009, she struck a woman who was crossing the street, leaving the pedestrian with permanent injuries. The struck woman subsequently filed a federal negligence suit against the lifeguard and her family. In her suit, she sought compensation, legal fees and interest.

The lifeguard later filed a complaint against the city, claiming that it was liable for pedestrian accidents like hers because she had been acting as their agent at the time. Although the city initially denied this by stating that her driving from one work site to another was outside the scope of her duties, a U.S. district judge denied their summary judgement motion in the middle of September 2013.

Because the city failed to demonstrate that the lifeguard wasn't acting in their employ at the time, it was given a 14-day period to prove why she shouldn't be protected by employer indemnification. It is unclear how this will affect the original suit brought by the injured pedestrian. She may now have to go up against the city and its legal staff, which could make things even more difficult for her.

Pedestrian accidents that are caused by public servants can make life even harder for victims than regular accidents might. Legal rules about whether these motorists are liable for their actions could prevent victims from bringing lawsuits against them, leaving them permanently disadvantaged because of their injuries and the costs of ongoing treatment. Personal injury attorneys who may help investigate incidents more closely may be able to help victims establish liability or pursue more likely forms of compensation.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "City may be liable for Lifeguard's car crash", Rose Bouboushian, September 20, 2013

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