Red Light Collision Caused By Responding Volunteer Results in $4.6 Million Settlement

A New Jersey woman who suffered catastrophic injures when her vehicle was struck by a car driven by a volunteer firefighter responding to an alarm will receive a settlement of $4.6 million. Melinda Baker suffered fourteen fractures to her legs, neck, arms and ribs requiring multiple surgeries. The January 26, 2018 accident left her confined to a wheelchair.

The firefighter, Richard Campbell of the Wenonah Volunteer Fire Company, was responding to an alarm when the accident occurred. Campbell was reportedly speeding when he ran a red light. He was cited for careless driving, failure to obey a traffic signal and creating a risk of a motor vehicle crash.

Baker filed suit in Gloucester County Superior Court in October, 2018 naming Campbell, the Wenonah Volunteer Fire Company, the Deptford Fire Department, Deptford Fire Department Battalion 1, Gloucester County Fire Chiefs Association, Oak Valley Fire Company No. 1, and Woodbury Heights Fire Department.

The settlement  was approved by Superior Court Judge Samuel Ragonese who was quoted by the Courier Post as saying the settlement was appropriate given Baker’s “catastrophic and permanent injuries” and her “likely need for treatment and care into the future.” Under the terms of the settlement, Campbell will pay $100,000 and the Wenonah Volunteer Fire Company will pay $4.5 million.

More on the story from the Courier Post.

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About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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