In the past 18 months, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority has agreed to settlements in seven personal injury cases, amounting to a total liability of approximately $1 million. The causes of action ranged from slip and fall injuries to wrongful death to violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to Turnpike Authority officials, the number and wide range of cases filed against it is to be expected, given the size of the agency.
The settlements included $60,000 to a man suffering from chronic back, hip and leg pain after a slip and fall accident at the PNC Bank Arts Center and $150,000 to a wheelchair-bound man who claimed that the inaccessible wheelchair ramps and restrooms at rest areas violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
One of the most tragic lawsuits settled by the Authority was a wrongful death claim filed on behalf of the estate of Heather Bratton, a 19-year-old fashion model who died during a car accident on the turnpike five years ago. According to police reports, Bratton was a passenger in a taxi cab headed for Newark airport when the vehicle suddenly came to a stop in a center lane and lost all power.
Unable to see the taxi, a vehicle traveling at approximately 50 miles per hour rear-ended the cab, causing it to burst into flames. Bratton, who was trapped in the backseat, suffered fatal burn injuries. Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Ford, the maker of the taxi cab, and the Turnpike Authority. The agency was responsible for Bratton’s death, the lawsuit stated, because the highway lights near the accident were not functioning when the accident occurred in the still-dark early morning hours.
If you or a family member has been injured on the New Jersey Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway, please contact Breslin & Breslin for a free consultation.
Source: Associated Press, “N.J. Turnpike Authority paid nearly $1M to settle 7 lawsuits, including one involving model that was killed,” 26 July 2011