Paterson, New Jersey, home to 148,708 (2006 U.S. Census) people, is New Jersey’s third largest city. The densely populated city covers an area of 8-square miles in southeastern Passaic County, where Paterson is the county seat. Paterson’s residents are racially and ethnically diverse; the Census Bureau reports 50% Latino, 33% White, 33% Black and 23% Asian. Paterson’s neighbors include surrounding communities of the boroughs of Prospect Park, Haledon, Totowa, Woodland Park, Hawthorne and the City of Clifton in Passaic County as well as the boroughs of Elmwood Park and Fair Lawn in Bergen County.
Paterson is served by Interstate 80 as well as State Routes 4, 19 and 20. U.S. Route 46 and the Garden State Parkway are nearby feeder roads into Paterson. Passaic County’s 1,200-mile roadway network carries millions of daily trips by buses, trucks and automobiles, and Paterson car accidents are a common occurrence. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 26 people were fatally injured in vehicle crashes in Passaic County during 2009. Eight fatalities occurred as the result of vehicle accidents involving alcohol-impaired drivers, and five pedestrians were killed as a result of vehicle accidents.
Paterson is home to the 651-bed St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, a state-designated Trauma Center. Designated trauma centers care for severely injured patients as well as victims of accident types known to be associated with a high risk for injury. Trauma patients include persons involved in motor vehicle crashes, falls and assaults. Caring for 120,000 patients in 2009, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department is the busiest in New Jersey. St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center is run by St. Joseph’s Healthcare, which also operates St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Paterson.
Healthgrades patient safety ratings reflect the quality of care at a hospital by measuring how well the hospital prevents potentially avoidable complications and adverse events following surgeries and procedures. Out of twelve patient safety indicators, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center did worse than expected in six categories.
New Jersey’s ratio of primary care doctors to patients is 36 percent below the national average. A recent study by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals (NJCTH) has warned of a shortage of doctors in New Jersey. The NJCTH also states an estimated 98,000 deaths occur annually from preventable hospital mistakes or mishaps.
The structure of New Jersey’s court system is among the most simple in the nation. The state has only the following types of courts: Municipal courts, Tax Court, state Superior Court, which includes the trial courts, an Appellate Division and the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Paterson Municipal Court, located at 111 Broadway, Paterson, NJ 07505, is considered a court of limited jurisdiction, having responsibility for motor vehicle and parking tickets, minor criminal offenses and municipal ordinance offenses. Paterson utilizes the trial court in Passaic County, which sits at the Passaic County Court House, 77 Hamilton Street, Paterson, NJ 07505. Both criminal and civil cases are heard at the trial court level. Typical civil cases involve contracts, personal injury, automobile accidents, employment and discrimination cases.