Getting from one place to another, we sometimes have to deal with construction on highways and city roads. They’re a hassle and, at the very best, you’ll have to slow down for the duration of the work zone. It’s very tempting, especially when traffic is otherwise light, to ignore the construction going on since we have to get where we’re going.
Don’t. Highway construction involves pavement in various stages of construction, with one lane often on a different level than the other, or lanes that shift so construction can continue without closing the road off. Even more importantly, workers and machinery are constantly on the move.
Between 2016 and 2017, automobile fatalities in work zones increased by 3% as opposed to overall accidents, which dropped 1.5%. The dangers are just as severe for the workers, as over 60% of fatalities at construction zones are due to workers struck by automobiles. Everyone must remain aware and careful, but accidents will happen.
If you’re in the Carolinas and find yourself in need of a car accident lawyer because of a construction zone-related collision, contact us at Auger & Auger. We’ve spent the last 25 years concentrating on personal injury cases and bring all that experience to help you seek the maximum compensation available. Call us at (800) 559-5741 or contact us online to schedule a risk-free consultation.
Dangers of Construction to Drivers
In 2018, construction zone accidents accounted for 672 automobile accidents that led to 755 fatalities. In the Carolinas alone, there were 24 driver fatalities in 2018 with 12 in each state, among the highest in the nation.
Along with standard reasons like distracted driving or driving under the influence, accidents in construction zones usually arise from five particular reasons:
- Changing traffic patterns – Construction zones often require closing off sections of the highway, changing the flow of traffic.
- Construction vehicles – From road rollers to motor graders to plain old maintenance pick-up trucks, construction areas are full of large machines. They move unpredictably, stopping suddenly and moving slowly, and require a good deal of attention from drivers. A driver not paying attention not only has to worry about sudden stops from the big machines, but also other motorists traveling the same limited space.
- Road damage – Most construction involves maintaining and repairing damaged roads, but this work can cause temporary damage to the road surface in the process. This introduces more hazards for a driver, such as potholes or damaged pavement, making for perfect accident conditions.
- Fluctuating speed limits – It goes without saying that drivers passing through construction zones must follow the speed limits, even if they suddenly drop from 70 mph to 55 mph. However, sometimes construction requires different speeds for different portions of the construction. Drivers must be aware of the changes in speed limits but sometimes wait too long to make adjustments. Careful attention and defensive driving will help drivers avoid an accident in a construction zone.
- Workers – Construction zones are full of workers. Distracted by their work, they’re often too busy to pay attention to what you’re doing if you’re driving irresponsibly. This can mean they get caught off guard by an unexpected maneuver, leading to an accident and injuries.
What To Do If You’re Involved In A Construction Zone Accident
When accidents happen in construction zones, there are steps for drivers and workers to take. In both cases, the most important thing for an injury victim to do is to establish liability — meaning who’s at fault and who’s responsible for repaying damages.
“Fault,” in the legal sense most often means proving that one or more parties were negligent. To establish negligence, you have to be able to demonstrate that someone had a “duty of care” that they breached, directly leading to an accident and subsequent damages.
For drivers, their “duty of care” involves driving at the recommended speed, following flaggers instructions, etc. Construction workers have a duty to keep the zone safe for drivers and use proper signage.
In the case of injury to a worker, a chain of command should be established to determine who speaks for the workers when they contact the U.S Occupational Safety and Hazard Association (OSHA) to file a claim. Identify which employees were involved or witnessed the accident, and gather as much evidence as quickly as possible.
Drivers involved in construction accidents should follow the same basic steps as all automobile accidents.
- Contact 911 to file a police claim and call for an ambulance if there are any injuries. Drivers should also consult a physician as soon after the accident as possible to check for hidden injuries that might cause problems down the line. A medical visit also documents your injuries and connects them to the date of the accident.
- Gather evidence. If you have access to a camera — either on your smartphone or a cheap disposable — take as many pictures of the scene as possible, including road and weather conditions as well as damage to yourself and your vehicle.
- Interview witnesses and participants. Again, your smartphone comes in handy. Most have recording devices, and it’s not a bad idea to keep a pen and pad on hand as they don’t run out of battery life.
- When talking to other drivers, construction workers, or the police, just give the facts as plainly as possible. Don’t speculate what others were doing that might have caused the accident and never admit fault. This can and will be used against if the case goes to court. Even an apology could be used to poke holes in an injury victim’s liability claim.
Finally, contact an experienced car accident lawyer to pursue appropriate damages before talking to insurers. An attorney can help you determine which damages are eligible for recovery, document them, and seek the maximum compensation available under all applicable policies.
Insurers will try to reduce the value of the claim any way they can, often taking advantage of the average person’s lack of knowledge for claims procedures. Hiring an attorney means preparing for these tactics — and preparing for a possible jury trial should the case not result in a prompt settlement.
Call Us, We’re On Your Side After a Construction Zone Wreck
If you need a car accident after being involved in a construction zone related accident in the Carolinas, reach out to Auger & Auger. We have the experience and resources you need to seek the full extent of available compensation. We will give your case the time, attention, and respect it deserves while keeping you informed of all your available legal options.
Call (800) 559-5741 or contact us online today to set up a no-risk free consultation. We will fight for you.