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State Supreme Court Takes DWI Accident Case on Appeal

A motorcyclist who ran a red light, struck a car and was seriously injured in a DWI-related accident after leaving a Toms River restaurant in November 2006 with a blood-alcohol content nearly 2 ½ times over the New Jersey legal limit is now the central player in a case before the state's Supreme Court.

The Court is taking the case of Frederick Voss - in which he sued Tiffany's Restaurant - on appeal, with its ruling likely to have an effect on the insurance costs of establishments that serve alcohol and possibly on the deterrence of drunk driving, as well.

In 1987, the New Jersey Legislature passed a law that enables a customer drinking at a restaurant, bar or other establishment holding a liquor license to sue that business if the patron is overserved alcohol and is subsequently injured in a motor vehicle accident owing to that fact. That is what Voss claimed happened, and his lawsuit in a lower court claimed damages from Tiffany's based on its alleged negligence.

Ten years later, in 1997, an amendment was tacked on to New Jersey's automobile insurance law that bars drunk drivers from recovering damages from injuries sustained in DUI-related accidents. Tiffany's is obviously a strong supporter of this law.

"There are two conflicting laws," says Andrew Kiraly, the general manager of another Toms River restaurant, "so the Supreme Court is going to decide which law trumps the other." Kiraly and other liquor establishments across the state are watching the case closely, because an outcome could have a major impact on future service and insurance costs.

Voss, too, is obviously focused intently on the result. He suffered multiple fractures and permanent injuries in his accident.

Related Resource:"Justices to take up issue of DUI "September 26, 2010

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