According to the Associated Press, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) paid out almost $1 million to settle at least seven lawsuits in the past year and a half. Lawsuits against NJTA and other large transportation agencies are basically inevitable. Over 600 million vehicles travel on the turnpike and parkway, there are the toll roads. All in all, there is a large potential for liability, including design defects which contribute to accidents, employee negligence and construction accidents, as well as eminent domain and workers' compensation cases. Among the seven settlements was a $60,000 agreement with a man who had fallen at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, who was left with chronic back, hip and leg pain. The NJTA paid $150,000 in another settlement with a paraplegic man who claimed there was inadequate parking and inaccessible wheelchair ramps and bathrooms at Garden State Parkway rest area. The man had alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Part of that settlement agreement was a promise to modify the rest areas so they accommodate disabled persons. Another $125,000 was paid out after a tragic 2006 motor vehicle accident involving a 19-year-old fashion model who burned to death in the back of a New York cab. The vehicle had apparently shut down in the middle of the highway, and was struck by another vehicle travelling at between 45 and 50 mph, which caused it to explode in flames. The woman's family, in addition to suing Ford Motor Company, also sued the Turnpike Authority since the highway lights above the accident site weren't properly functioning at the time of the crash, which occurred at 5 o'clock in the morning. In our next post, we'll continue this topic. Source:, "N.J. Turnpike Authority paid nearly $1M to settle 7 lawsuits, including one involving model that was killed," Associated Press, 26 July 2011.