Since the beginning of 2010, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority has paid out nearly $1 million to settle a total of at least seven lawsuits, according to a recent article on NorthJersey.com. Most of those lawsuits stemmed from vehicle accidents that occurred on the roadways overseen by the agency.
While the reasons for settling out of court may vary from case to case, settlement is often a strategic move calculated to resolve a dispute quickly, thereby sparing both parties the additional time, expense and uncertain outcome of a trial.
One such settlement involved a lawsuit brought by the estate of a mother of four who was killed after being tailgated by another driver, causing her to lose control of her vehicle and drove off an embankment. The Turnpike Authority paid $162,500 to settle a claim that dangerous design flaws in the road contributed to the accident.
A similar settlement was made in March, when the agency settled for $360,000 with a motorcyclist who suffered multiple injuries after hitting a sinkhole in Newark. The man was thrown from his bike and required four surgeries as a result of his injuries.
Perhaps the most well publicized settlement of the past 18 months involved the death of a 19-year-old model who was killed after the car she was traveling in stalled on a dark stretch of road before dawn. The vehicle was struck from behind by another vehicle whose driver did not see the car stalled in the center lane. The young woman’s family sued the agency for failing to repair the lights that had gone out in that area of the turnpike.
Other lawsuits settled by the Turnpike Authority involve somewhat less tragic circumstances. Last September, the agency settled for $60,000 with a woman who sued after being pulled from her car and arrested following an altercation with a state trooper.
In another settlement, the Turnpike Authority agreed to pay up to $150,000 to cover the legal expenses of a paraplegic man who claimed that the rest areas on Garden State Parkway failed to comply of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to the payment, the agency agreed to make the rest areas more accessible to those with disabilities.
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