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Sara’s Law – A Look at the Motor Vehicle Crash Law After 7 Years

Sara's Law Dansky Katz Ringold York

Motor Vehicle Accidents in New Jersey

According to records released by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Data and Safety and provided by all the state and local law enforcement agencies, there was a total of 273,473 motor vehicle injuries in New Jersey in 2016.

So far in 2018, there have been 162 motor vehicle accidents and 177 fatalities due to accidents in New Jersey.

Yet even armed with this data, we cannot accurately understand the massive effects of these accidents without taking into account the other side of the story: the families of those who are involved in motor vehicle accidents.

New Jersey Next-of-Kin Registry

Considering the impact that these accidents have on not just the victims, but the families as well, the Next-of-Kin Registry was established in New Jersey.

The Next-of-Kin registry is a web-based system that allows any individual in the state of New Jersey who is at least 14 years old to voluntarily submit their emergency contact information.

The information on the Next-of-Kin Registry can then be used by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and law enforcers in order to identify and communicate to the emergency contact persons of people involved in vehicular accidents.

Why is an Emergency Contact Information System Important?

Emergency contact information is one of the most critical information that you can share, whether it is in your workplace, while on a vacation, or participating in sports and recreational activities.

At any moment, an accident may occur. Having that emergency contact information on hand during those times of emergency is important to not only notify family but also allow family to be involved if any important decisions need to be made quickly.

What is Sara’s Law?

The idea behind the Next-of-Kin registry came about because of Sara’s Law.

Sara’s Law was named in memory of Sara Dubinin, a 19 year-old girl who was the victim of a motor vehicle accident in September 2007. Sara suffered critical injuries when the vehicle she was riding in ran off-road and struck a tree.

Although the accident happened just a few miles from her home, Sara Dubinin’s parents were notified of the accident two hours after it occurred.

The information about Sara’s accident was passed to her parents by one of her friends and not from the authorities. Once they learned about the accident, Betty Dubinin and her husband immediately went to the hospital. Unfortunately, Sara was already in a coma by the time they arrived.

Tragically, Sara never regained consciousness and passed away the following day.

After Sara’s death, her family and friends started to raise awareness of the need for a national registry for next-of-kin. The registry is aimed to collect data regarding the emergency contact persons of individuals who are 14 years old and above.

Sara’s Law – At a Glance

Sara’s Law was enacted in 2011 and mandates that the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission allow vehicle owners to submit their vehicle identification number (VIN).

In addition, the vehicle owners can also provide emergency contact information which will be stored in the Next-of-Kin Registry system.

Emergency personnel and law enforcers must notify the emergency contact person recorded in the VIN during a car crash or accident. With the help of the Next-of-Kin Registry System, the emergency person can be contacted and be informed of the accident and can be asked about the medical history of the person involved in the car crash. In tragic cases, like Sara’s, this allows for the emergency contact to notify family and allow them to be with their loved one in their final moments.

Moreover, Sara’s Law also lowered the age limit of non-driver identification cards from 17 years old to 14 years old. Minors who are 17 years old or younger will need to have parental consent when acquiring their identification card. Parents can also designate themselves as the emergency personnel of their child or children in the Next-of-Kin Registry.

Update on Sara’s Law

Now, seven years after Sara’s law was enacted, a new legislation is being proposed and was recently passed by the Assembly.

The Senate Transportation Committee is now considering the proposed legislation wherein manufacturers of motor vehicles operating in New Jersey will work with the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. With their partnership, they will create a “National Motor Vehicle Emergency Contact Registry” which will store emergency contact personnel and information.

The information can then be accessed immediately by emergency responders or law enforcers if the person involved in the vehicular accident is seriously injured, incapacitated, or when victims are unable to communicate.

If this new legislation is approved, all motor vehicle and leasing dealers would be required to ask any purchasers or lessees of new vehicles (2020 models and newer) to voluntarily add their emergency contact information to the registry, would would then be linked with the state’s Next-of-Kin Registry.

What Should You Do if You’re Involved in a Car Accident?

If you are ever involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is important to contact the proper authorities. It is also important to find the right representation when needed in this situation.

Here at Dansky | Katz | Ringold | York, we help victims of motor vehicle accidents find the care and treatment needed, as well as recover damages from the accident, if possible. We work hard to fight for the rights of our clients, and we are happy to discuss your accident with you, free of charge.

You can call us directly at 800-609-7577 or contact us online.

Finally, we highly recommend that you add your information to the Next-of-Kin registry as soon as possible!