A fatal North Carolina construction site accident on I-485 has raised safety concerns regarding the location of concrete barriers and construction off-ramps. A dump truck driver hit a crash barrier located right in front of a temporary construction off-ramp. The truck flipped and caught on fire, killing the driver. It is unknown whether the driver was confused by the temporary off-ramp, which was set up by a contractor. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has assessed and announced that no additional signs or warnings like removable signs or additional cones were needed. A representative of N.C.D.O.T. stated that a sign for reduced speed was already in use and a solid yellow line drawn, which is supposed to show that drivers are not to cross.
Construction site traffic safety is guided by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA requires a traffic safety plan that charts how the movement of traffic will be controlled so motorists know what routes are for motorists and where the construction site is located. This is a greatly important task because 20% of the nation’s highway system is under construction with over 3,000 work sites. Since work zone crashes cause over 40,000 injuries each year, it is important to know who controls what aspect of the construction site so that the proper entity can assume responsibility for the safety of others.
The governmental authority in charge is the entity that determines the configuration of the temporary traffic control zone. The traffic control zone for motorists and pedestrians is determined by the construction project manager. The project manager can use signs, traffic barriers, and flags to communicate alternate routes to motorists and pedestrians so that safe passage can be ensured.
Accountability may be trickier to obtain when dealing with a government construction site. Interstate, state, and municipal highway construction are all performed by government entities. When government entities are sued, they rely upon the legal doctrine of “sovereign immunity” or “governmental immunity” to shield them from liability. This legal theory is based on the idea that the controlling authorities cannot and should not be sued. Sovereign immunity protects state government and its agencies. Governmental immunity protects local municipalities, but to a lesser extent. Sovereign and governmental immunity can be waived though, through statute or through contract. The North Carolina Tort Act explains that the state of North Carolina can be held liable for negligence on the part of an officer, employee, or agent of the State acting within the scope of authority.
The North Carolina car accident attorneys at Auger & Auger understand the intricacies of sovereign and governmental immunity, and they will fight to get the compensation you deserve for a construction site car accident. If you have been injured in a construction site car accident and would like to speak to one of our experienced personal injury attorneys, contact Herbert or Arlene Auger today at (888) 487- 0835 for a free, confidential consultation.
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