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ARTICLE ID 158365

$________ Tort Claims Act case - Dangerous condition of roadway due to negligent paving - 45-year-old motorcyclist hit bump on State highway - Cervical herniation requiring fusion.

Ocean County, NJ

The plaintiff, a 45-year-old motorcyclist, was operating his vehicle on State Highway 88 in Brick, New Jersey when he struck a four inch raised portion of the roadway, which extended across the entire lane. The impact lifted the cyclist off the seat and pegs, causing him to land hard on the seat, resulting in a neck injury.

Subsequent discovery and investigation revealed that the condition was caused by the use of blacktop paving over an existing concrete roadway with expansion joints. The paving apparently prevented proper functioning of the expansion joints causing the road to heave. The plaintiff did not report the incident to the police until several days later. A local police officer, who investigated the plaintiff’s allegations, confirmed the existence of the roadway condition and notified the State Department of Transportation. The condition was corrected several weeks later by milling the road.

The plaintiff was able to produce several witnesses who lived and worked in the area, who indicated that the condition had existed for several years. Furthermore, Department of Transportation personnel admitted that they were aware of problems on Route 88 to varying degrees. The plaintiff contended that the actions of the state were palpably unreasonable.

The plaintiff underwent a cervical discectomy and fusion with instrumentation at C3 through C6. His medical bills were paid through private insurance without subrogation claims. The plaintiff lost several months of work immediately following the accident and six months of work following the surgery, but was discharged by his treating physician to full duty thereafter. However, plaintiff was unable to return to the heavy construction type of work he had performed prior to the accident.

The defense argued that the plaintiff was comparatively negligent in failing to observe the bump in the road as it was daylight and the speed limit was only 35 miles per hour. The defendant’s orthopedic physician indicated that the plaintiff’s cervical problems were the result of a longstanding degenerative disc disease with the MRI showing extensive osteophyte formation throughout the cervical spine. However, the defendant’s physician did concede that the injury may have aggravated the underlying condition and accelerated the need for surgery.

The matter settled shortly before a scheduled Mandatory, Non- Binding Arbitration Hearing for $________.

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