Road construction is necessary to maintain, repair, and improve roads, bridges, and highways. The stretches of road on which work is taking place can have many hazards and many auto accidents occur in road work zones. Both workers and motorists are at risk for injuries in collisions in work zones and many of these collisions occur due to the negligence of one of the involved parties. In such cases, an experienced Philadelphia auto accident attorney can help you hold the negligent party responsible and obtain financial recovery for your injuries. The following is some information on how negligence can lead to work zone accidents.
Injuries to construction workers
It is extremely dangerous to work in a construction zone with traffic passing by directly next to you. In fact, hundreds of construction workers die every year in road work zones and 16 died in Pennsylvania alone in 2013. Thousands more workers suffered serious and potentially permanent injuries due to the negligence of drivers passing through work zones. For this reason, the law provides harsh penalties for drivers who act in a negligent manner in these areas. Some negligent acts by drivers may include:
- Not following the directions of signs or workers directing traffic
- Texting or other forms of distracted driving
- Driving in lanes that have been closed
- Improper passing
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
In order to prevent dangerous driving in work zones, Pennsylvania law doubles the fines for drivers who violate speed limits and other traffic laws when construction workers and warning signs are both present. Any driver who fatally hits a construction worker and is criminally convicted will be sentenced to five additional years in prison if the accident occurred in a work zone. Additionally, drivers convicted of traveling 11 miles over the speed limit or more will have their driver’s license suspended for at least 15 days.
Injuries to motorists
Drivers are not the only ones who can be negligent and cause accidents in road work zones. Many construction workers and companies can be negligent and lead to cars crashing, as well. Some of the types of negligence that can be on the part of road work crews include:
- Not posting adequate signs to warn drivers that they are approaching a road work zone, that there are lane closures, that traffic may be congested, or other potential obstacles.
- Not properly directing traffic when necessary on one-lane roads.
- Pulling vehicles out from construction areas into oncoming traffic.
- Construction workers walking out into traffic or standing in the roadway.
- Leaving tools, supplies, or machinery in the path of traffic.
- Dropping objects onto the roadway from cranes, bulldozers, or other large machines.
- Failing to adequately repair a road or failing to properly construct a road so that it is safe for drivers to use.
If a driver suddenly encounters an obstacle in the roadway, serious collisions can occur. Additionally, because of common lane closures, accidents in construction zones can often involve multiple vehicles in chain reaction and pile-up crashes. These types of crashes can result in numerous injuries to many different individuals.
In order to avoid such accidents, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT) requires that all road construction crews clearly designate the beginning and end of any active road work zones. If workers are present, there must be a white flashing light indicating as such. Additionally, construction companies have the legal duty to properly train road crews in safety measures and the crews have the duty to keep the road zone in safe condition for passing motorists.
The rights of victims of work zone accidents
Whether the injured victim is a construction worker or a motorist, they have the legal right to recover for their losses from the negligent party. Because of the many different types of hazards that may exist in work zones and that may have played a part in causing the accident, conducting a thorough investigation is imperative to building a strong legal claim. If the negligent party was a driver who violated any traffic laws, any subsequent citations and convictions may serve as important evidence in a civil personal injury case. If the negligent party was a construction worker, you may need to utilize construction experts to analyze the worker’s behavior in comparison with industry safety standards to prove their negligence. An experienced Philadelphia auto accident lawyer will have the skill and resources needed to build a successful road work zone case.