Jury Finds Emergency Responders Took Too Long, Awards $8.7 Million to Injured Motorist

A civil jury this week found that emergency responders took too long to arrive at a multi-car accident scene on the Atlantic City Expressway despite multiple 9-1-1 calls and awarded $8.7 million to a Mays Landing woman who lost her leg in that accident. (1)

The accident occurred on December 4, 2005. The woman, Janet Henebema, was returning home from her job at an Atlantic City casino when she hit a patch of black ice. Two other cars had hit the same ice patch earlier, causing them to crash into a barrier. Ms. Henebema was able to slow her car down, but the car still crashed into one of the disabled cars. When Henebema left her vehicle to walk to the shoulder of the road, she was struck by yet another car that hit the same ice patch. Ms. Henebema’s leg was severed as a result. (2)

In the civil trial it was discovered that the first accidents occurred more than one half-hour before Ms. Henebema’s car crashed and at least eight phone calls were made to 9-1-1 reporting the accidents. (3)

The jury found that the South Jersey Transportation Authority was largely to blame for the slow response, stating that dispatchers failed to appropriately update State Troopers as to the status of the earlier accidents and that they also rejected an offer of help from the Egg Harbor Township Police.(1)

The State Police, who were responding to another fatal accident on that roadway, were 20% to blame for the accident according to the jury. (1)

(1) http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/10/mays_landing_woman_is_awarded.html

(2) http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/news/top_three/article_197bd434-e469-50d8-bef1-9a6435c344b7.html

(3) http://www.mycentraljersey.com/fdcp/?1287107915465