Passengers Have Affirmative Duty to Aid Victim of DWI Driver – Podias v. Maiers

In this morning’s Appellate Division holding in Podias v. Maiers, the Court ruled that the passengers in a motor vehicle that was operated by a person whom they knew to be intoxicated had an affirmative duty to come to the aid of a motorist who was severely injured in an accident and ultimately killed when he was struck by a second vehicle.

The accident which gave rise to this case occurred on the Garden State Parkway when a motor vehicle operated by a legally intoxicated 18 year-old driver struck a person on a motorcycle. The intoxicated driver and two passengers got out of their car and looked at the victim. Thinking he had been killed, the driver and passengers abandoned the victim on the highway and fled the scene. The victim was subsequently struck by a second car and killed. Significantly, both the passengers and the intoxicated driver had cell phones from which they made numerous calls following the accident, none of which involved getting help for the victim. Their main goals following the accident were to avoid apprehension and involvement.

The Appellate Division held that New Jersey law imposes an affirmative duty on passengers in a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver to come to the aid of a person who has been injured by the driver. Such individuals may be civilly liable to the victim or his estate if his death has been proximately caused by the breach of this duty to provide aid.

Download a copy of Podias v. Mairs.

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