It is highly probable that you have encountered a construction or road work zone during a commute since acquiring your license. Even if you have not been involved in an accident in one of these areas, you know how stressful it can be to drive in them, and maybe you have even seen an accident occur. There are several factors at play in these areas, all of which require our undivided attention. Sometimes, there is no way to stop an accident from happening, so when it does, who is to blame?
What is a Construction or Road Work Zone?
A construction or road work zone is an area of the road that maintenance is being conducted. You often see these areas cordoned off using cones, barrels, or barriers. Even in situations where the area is not physically cordoned off, there will be the use of signs, shadow vehicles, or flashing lights that indicate operations on the roadway.
Each state has its own laws for construction and road work zones. You can expect that you will face heightened fines and repercussions if you do anything reckless on the roadway in these areas. Every single state has also instituted the “Move Over Law.”
What is the Move Over Law?
The Move Over Law has been instituted in every one of the 50 states. The premise of the law is that, as a driver, you are required to move over if there is someone or something on the side of the road. Ideally, you would move into the other lane, but in situations where this is not feasible, you slow down to a responsible rate of speed when passing.
The law was implemented to help reduce the number of police officers, construction workers, and other people from being hit on the side of the road while fulfilling a duty. In 2017, 47 officers lost their lives in traffic-related incidents, nine of which were outside their vehicles. In situations where people are hit by cars on the side of the road, it is preventable.
Who is At-Fault in a Construction or Road Work Zone Accident?
There is no definitive answer to this question. As with any vehicle collision, there are factors that must be considered to determine where the negligence occurred in the accident. A construction crew does not have to be present at the time of an accident for it to be considered a construction or road work zone accident.
In these situations, you will likely need the expertise of a lawyer who handles construction and road work zone accidents to determine if you are owed compensation.
When the Construction Company May Be At-Fault
There is a duty that a construction company has when they are creating the site. They have to create the zone in a way that minimizes the risk of danger and to warn of any potential dangers that may exist. When this duty is breached, they can be found liable for the damages caused by their negligence. Companies are vicariously liable for the negligence of their workers and subcontractors on a work site. Meaning that even if the individual worker created the danger, it is the company that hired them that will be found liable.
Some of the situations you may see a construction company found negligent include:
- The design of the construction zone and route require motorists to make sudden or dangerous maneuvers, creating unnecessary hazards on the roadway
- The maintenance of the construction route creates a hazard by forcing the motorists to move in sudden or dangerous maneuvers
- Lack of or improperly placed warning signs for the construction or road work zone
- The use of inaccurate warning signs
- Directions for detour are not visible through the construction or road work zone
- The placement of the signs, barricades, cones, barriers, or any other device used is placed too close to the moving lanes
- The operation of the construction equipment impairs the passage of moving vehicles throughout the site
If you or someone you love has been injured in a construction or road work zone by the negligence of a construction company, compensation may be available. Reach out to an experienced attorney for a free case consultation today.
When a Driver May Be At-Fault
There are times when the construction company did everything right, but an accident still occurs. In these situations, you or another driver likely caused an accident within that work zone. The types of scenarios where a driver may be at-fault in a construction or road work zone accident are:
- The car hits a warning sign or construction equipment, causing a chain reaction where one or more cars runs into the first one
- A driver rear-ends another driver who slowed down or stopped as indicated by the situation
- A distracted driver did not see the warning signs and caused an accident with another driver who was following the rules
As you can see, there are different scenarios when the liability is assigned based on the negligence of the driver or the construction company. In some situations, you may not be able to easily determine which party was responsible for the accident or your injuries. In that case, you will need a lawyer who can navigate the legal waters and pursue the liable party for you.
How Fault Can Be Determined
After an accident, the police should be called to the scene to complete an accident/police report. This report will go through the details of the accident, list the evidence, and gain other witness testimony. In many cases, the officer will be able to determine fault at the scene of the accident. For accidents with multiple parties and potential scenarios, an accident reconstruction may have to be done before liability can be assigned.
Police aren’t the only ones who investigate accidents and do reconstructions. Lawyers also have professionals that perform these duties for them, especially if there is a case where the liability is not clear. Between the use of the accident reports, accident reconstructions, and private investigations, a lawyer often compiles enough evidence to prove the other party liable in the accident for compensation.
Types of Damages Sought in Construction and Road Work Zone Accidents
There are three types of damages that may be paid to the victim of a car accident in a construction or road work zone – economic, non-economic, and punitive. A personal injury lawyer is going to pursue economic and non-economic damages on behalf of their clients. Punitive damages are something that a judge or jury may assign in a case. These are rare, but if the circumstances warrant it, they may require the defendant to pay them as a form of punishment.
Economic damages in a car accident case are those monetary amounts that can be justified through exact amounts. For example, medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and anything with a receipt is considered economic damage. Many insurance companies prefer to settle for as close to the economic damages because it is quantifiable.
Non-economic damages are those assigned for pain and suffering, emotional strain, and other damages. Putting a price tag on these damages varies from case to case. There is no method of calculation for these damages, which is why insurance companies are not keen on paying these and will often negotiate the amount if discussing a settlement.
Part of the process during an injury claim is the settlement negotiation. Most insurance companies prefer to keep these cases out of the courtroom, so they offer up settlement amounts to the victims or their families. One thing to keep in mind, if you don’t have legal representation, they are likely to try and present you with an amount well below what your case is worth.
An experienced car accident lawyer has the skills needed to gain the maximum payout from the insurance company. While there are limits to each policy, your legal professional can fight to get you the maximum amount for your case. Once a settlement has been agreed upon, the civil case is dropped against the defendant.
If the right settlement amount can be agreed upon, it saves time and money – allowing you to get your compensation quicker and put the accident behind you.
TorkLaw: Construction and Road Work Zone Accident Lawyers
If you have been injured in a car accident within a construction or road work zone, you need an experienced attorney to take your case. TorkLaw offers free and confidential case consultations for your accident case.
You can reach us anytime at 888.845.9696 or online through the contact form.
Our experienced legal team knows the law when it comes to construction and road work zones. We seek out the compensation you deserve for the injuries you sustained at the hands of the construction company or another driver. We don’t get paid for your case if we do not win. Let us help you get the compensation you deserve.