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Angelie’s Law named for North Bergen baby killed in jitney crash

Laws sometimes don’t change until there’s enough outrage over a senseless incident to push New Jersey lawmakers to act. A car accident victim may have to suffer extraordinary injuries or die before a new regulation is passed. The victim or family’s loss is a legal propellant to protect future innocent lives.

The first name of a North Bergen baby has been memorialized in the name of a new state law. Angelie’s Law is legislation that didn’t exist, until the 8-month-old child was killed last year by a jitney driver, allegedly distracted by a cellphone call.

The jitney bus struck a pole that fell over onto the child, as she was seated in a stroller.

Until Angelie’s Law was signed, federal regulators supplied most of the regulations for jitneys and jitney drivers in New Jersey, despite efforts by some state lawmakers to push bills for safety rules. Under the immediately-effective law, jitney owners will pay up to $5,000, when operators are not properly licensed and screened or fingerprinted.

The jitney measure was combined and passed with other provisions. In another year, all New Jersey buses will post a rider’s Bill of Rights and contact numbers to report unsafe buses and bus drivers. In addition, police officers now have the power to order blood samples from drivers involved in serious injury crashes.

Many motor vehicle accidents are preventable. Criminal courts handle lawbreakers when investigators uncover evidence of wrongdoing like drunk, drugged or distracted driving. Civil courts hear personal claims from parties injured by driver carelessness, including accident victims and families who have lost loved ones.

A permanent disability cannot be made temporary. A life taken by negligent behavior cannot be returned. The crash victims and grieving survivors turn to judges and juries in civil courts for compensation, the only way other than criminal punishment that an irresponsible driver can be held accountable for losses.

Source: The Record, “North Bergen parents of infant killed in bus accident receive copy of law named for her” Linh Tat, Jan. 30, 2014

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