In 2013, more than 67,500 car accidents occurred in constructions zones nationwide. These crashes caused more than 47,700 injuries. Several situations can lead to crashes in work zones. When lanes are closed off, the merging traffic can bottleneck. Some vehicles may not stop quickly enough. This is particularly common if the drivers are distracted.
Detours can become confusing if, for example, drivers are directed to the left side of the street and want to turn right. Obstacles can be left in the roadway, causing drivers to collide with the object or swerve around it and possibly crash into another vehicle. Bulky construction vehicles often have blind spots that can cause them to strike other vehicles. Drivers who are speeding may even hit construction crew members working on the road.
If you have been injured in a construction zone vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and more. There are several unique things you have to keep in mind in construction zone crashes, in addition to the usual protocol after accidents. Here’s what you need to know.
Liability issues in construction zone accidents
The construction company or the government may be deemed liable for an accident that occurs in a work zone if they:
• Did not alert drivers using adequate warning signs and/or detour signs
• Left equipment in the road where it was hazardous to drivers
• Failed to guide traffic when necessary
• Neglected to sign off a dangerous area, such as a hole in the road
• Did not properly mark temporary lanes for drivers to follow
Because of detours and sudden merging, construction areas are often the site of chain-reaction collisions involving multiple drivers. These accidents can be legally complicated because many drivers may be at-fault, to varying degrees. It’s also possible the construction company plus multiple drivers may be liable.
If a construction worker was injured in a vehicle accident, he or she can file for workers’ compensation benefits if their employer is insured. But the construction worker may also be entitled to receive damages through a personal injury claim.
What to do after an accident
• Give the police a complete and honest account of what happened before and during the accident.
• When speaking to the other drivers or construction crew about the crash, state only the facts. Don’t admit fault and don’t apologize, even if that seems rude. It could make you seem guilty if you later file a personal injury case.
• Get statements from witnesses to the crash. Photograph the damage, the accident scene, the road conditions around the construction zone, the signage, and your injuries. This evidence will help your lawyer construct a strong case. Click here for a list of information you should gather at the scene.
• Seek medical care as soon as possible, even if you feel fine. Pain can be masked by shock in the hours after an accident. If you wait until injuries and pain arise later on, these injuries probably won’t be accounted for in your claim.
• Consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before communicating with the other driver’s insurance company. An attorney will handle communication with the insurance company and the other driver’s attorney. Your lawyer will build a strong case to help you get the most compensation. Insurance companies try to settle for less than you may be entitled to. The Lamber-Goodnow Personal Injury Law Team offers free consultations. We only get paid if you get paid.
For more information on what compensation you may be awarded in a personal injury case, read our article here.
To learn more about how an attorney can build a robust case and help you get the most compensation possible, read our article here.
Safety issues in construction zones
As you probably know from road signs in Phoenix, fines for speeding in construction sites can be double those on regular roads. Though work zone speed limits can seem extremely low, they are there for the safety not only of drivers but of the construction crew working on or close to the road. Always obey the speed limit in work zones.
If you can drive in two or more lanes, try to take the lane farthest from the construction to avoid hitting workers or equipment that may fall in the road. Be especially cautious when the crew is working at night, as it may be difficult to see individuals in the dark.
Be sure to keep enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you to reduce the risk of chain-reaction accidents. And as always, avoid distractions such as texting or other cell phone use.