Largest Reported NJ Personal Injury Settlement during the Court’s 2022-2023 term

Negligence of Totowa Bar Leads to Serious Drunk Driving Collision–$1.24 Million Settlement

In Totowa, New Jersey, a passenger in an Infiniti G35 sedan driven by his intoxicated friend was left in a nonresponsive state. The driver and passengers had just left a local bar when the vehicle collided into a telephone pole. Davis, Saperstein and Salomon, P.C. Partner Samuel L. Davis proved that the bar, as well as their contracted security and valet companies, were negligent in failing to create a safe environment for patrons, securing our client a $1.24 million dollar settlement.

After arriving at the bar, our client and his friends gave their keys to the bar’s valet attendant. Following a night of continuous drinking, the bar’s bouncer and security allowed them to leave visibly intoxicated. The client and drunk driver then retrieved their keys from the valet, who also disregarded their intoxication. The driver and passengers merged onto Route 46 and drove for about 10 seconds when the driver lost control of the car and struck a telephone pole. Totowa Police responded to the scene, smelled a strong odor of alcohol, and charged the intoxicated driver with a DUI, unsafe lane change, and driving without a buckled seatbelt. An ambulance took the front seat passenger, our client, to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson, New Jersey.

The impact of the crash severely injured our client’s neck and spinal cord. He suffered a burst fracture in his cervical spine that required multiple surgical procedures to treat: an anterior corpectomy, posterior fusion, and a decompressive laminectomy. Post-operatively, he suffered vision loss and bilateral lower extremity paralysis, and was placed on a ventilator. About 2 weeks after his procedures, he went into cardiopulmonary arrest. Although he was stabilized, he remained nonverbal, largely nonresponsive, and expected to remain in long-term hospital care.

Davis, Saperstein and Salomon P.C. hired medical specialists to serve as expert witnesses. They authored narratives and provided oral and written testimony proving the permanency of our client’s condition. Their reports showed our client’s entitlement to financial compensation, specifically for his medical bills and pain and suffering.

In order to prove the negligence of the bar’s personnel, Davis, Saperstein and Salomon P.C. retained a forensic toxicologist and alcohol service security experts. The alcohol-drug expert determined that the bar was negligent for overserving the driver when he was visibly intoxicated, as confirmed by his high blood alcohol content (BAC). The expert supported our claim under New Jersey’s Dram Shop Law, which states damages can be sought from a bar which served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. The security expert focused on the bouncers’ lack of training, in identifying and stopping clearly intoxicated individuals from being served more alcohol. The expert analyzed training protocols and concluded that the security guards and valets had inadequate training and were not prepared to respond to the client’s situation. The staff should have noticed the obvious signs of intoxication and stopped the man from drinking and driving. The experts concluded that the staff should have noticed their drunken state and stopped the man from drinking and driving, thus proving the proximate cause of the accident was the negligence of the bar.

Even though insurance coverage was limited, the case was vigorously defended by the defendant. Partner Sam Davis sued the establishment, as well as their security and valet companies, in the Passaic County Superior Court. He secured our client a $1.24 million settlement as compensation for his injuries, pain, and suffering.

Settlements are often limited by the total available insurance coverage. Insurance company adjusters and their lawyers often defend cases by claiming that a client was negligent and could have avoided being injured by arguing comparative negligence on the part of an injured client; or that their pain and suffering was caused by pre-existing medical conditions or prior injuries. Despite those defenses, the Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, PC lawyers won their client’s injury claim. Each client’s case is unique. Results may differ because of different facts, circumstances and available insurance coverage.


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Medical Glossary:

Anterior:  Anterior refers to the front of the human body when used to describe anatomy. For example, the kneecap is located on the anterior part of your body.  An anterior ligament is a ligament that is on the front part of a joint.

Bilateral: Bilateral means both sides.  If someone has bilateral pain in their arms that means that their pain is going down both arms.

Burst Fracture: A burst fracture a severe fracture that occurs when the primary bone of the spine, known as a vertebra, is broken in multiple directions. A burst fracture can occur during a motor vehicle accident or falling down a significant height.

Cardiovascular System: The cardiovascular system is made up of the heart, blood vessels, and blood, and is responsible for keeping the heart pumping. It transports nutrients and blood to all parts of the body, as well as carrying deoxygenated blood back to the lungs.

Cervical Spine: The cervical spine, also known as the neck region, consists of seven bones, the C1-C7 vertebrae. They are separated from each other by intervertebral discs. If one of these vertebrae become misaligned, symptoms including neck pain, head pain, shoulder pain, and more, can occur.

Corpectomy: A corpectomy is a surgical procedure that involves removing an intervertebral disc or the front part of damaged vertebrae.

Laminectomy: A surgical operation to remove the back of one or more vertebrae, usually to give access to the spinal cord or to relieve pressure on nerves.

Spinal Fusions: A surgery to permanently connect two or more vertebrae in the spine, eliminating motion between them.