Did you know that each year an estimated 100,000 work zone crashes take place in the United States? Despite Florida’s effort to minimize work zone accidents by managing traffic and implementing work zone safety laws, this can be difficult when work is not completed in a timely manner, traffic is disrupted during rush hours, and road debris and lane shifts cause accidents.
So who is liable if you were injured in a work zone?
Florida Work Zone Accident Statistics
Unfortunately, nearly 85 percent of work zone fatalities were actually drivers and passengers in cars, and nearly 25 percent of those fatalities involved large truck crashes. This is nearly double the number of large truck fatalities seen in non-work zone accidents. When it comes to construction workers, however, the following are the most common causes of fatalities and serious injuries:
- Vehicle collisions
- Caught between accidents
- Striking by objects
Although runover accidents are often caused by the work vehicles themselves, workers are also run over by cars, vans, and trucks while in work zones. Typically, the majority of work zone accidents actually occur on rural roads including interstates, arterial, and local roads. Injured workers generally must avail themselves of Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, but there are limited exceptions to liability if the employer was reckless in affording safe working conditions to its employees. These exceptions are complicated, however, and require the aid of an experienced Florida worker’s compensation attorney.
Most Common Work Zone Traffic Accidents
According to the Federal Highway Administration, rear-end crashes are the most common work zone car accidents, but most work zone accidents occur on roads with a speed limit of more than 50 miles per hour, meaning that these accidents can cause substantially more damage than slow-moving rear-end accidents. Furthermore, many accidents occur because distracted drivers fail to see or ignore traffic signs that indicate roadwork, changes in speed limits, or upcoming lane shifts. Failure to abide by road signs is considered negligence in Florida if it results in an accident, and you may even be negligent under Florida law. This is an old legal principle by which a driver can be held liable for an accident simply because he was breaking the law at the time the accident occurred.
Drivers should take the following precautions to avoid work zone accidents, and if they do not and you are injured in a car accident, your attorney may argue that the other driver was negligent by falling below the standard of care required when driving in a work zone:
- Dedicate your full attention to the road
- Don’t change radio stations or use your phone
- Keep headlights on
- Follow road signs
- Watch brake lights and travel at a speed appropriate for the size of your vehicle and weather so that you can stop
- Don’t tailgate
- Merge before you reach lane closures
- Follow posted speed limits
- Be patient
- Expert the unexpected, such as debris
Even if you take precautions, you cannot always protect yourself from the negligence of others. You can, however, reduce the seriousness of your injuries and protect yourself from liabilities.
Liability for Work Zone Accidents
As stated previously, if you were injured on the job, more likely than not you will have to avail yourself of Florida workers’ compensation laws, which generally prevent you from suing your employer for your injuries. Florida law, however, may also entitle you to compensation from the negligent driver’s no-fault and liability insurance policies, because you are entitled to no-fault benefits as a pedestrian. In this case, the insurance company may reduce the amount of compensation you are due in proportion to your workers’ compensation benefits.
If you were an injured driver or passenger of a motor vehicle, however, which party will pay compensation will generally depend on the nature of the accident. If you were rear-ended, you must generally seek compensation from the other driver. If you were injured because of poor pavement, construction road debris, or worker negligence, you may be able to seek compensation against the state, municipality, city, or private construction company.
Suing the state of Florida or a municipal authority, however, is different than seeking compensation from a private entity. You must follow different sets of regulations when bringing such claims, and you must contact an attorney who specializes in road construction accidents against public authorities. As is often the case, a work zone accident may occur due to multiple factors, such as uneven pavement that causes a vehicle to careen into you. Cases like this can be more complicated, so you must conduct an investigation to determine the true cause of the accident.
Contact a New Port Richey Construction Zone Accident Attorney Today
Whether you are an injured worker, driver, or passenger, if you were injured in a work zone, the same rules don’t always apply as those you would see in other types of traffic accidents. Specialized work zone laws, negligence standards, workers’ compensation insurance, and public involvement in such projects can quickly complicate how you seek compensation for your injuries. Sometimes it may be easier to prove liability because of the additional safety laws in place in work zones. Other times, however—especially when a government becomes a defendant—making claims can be difficult and time-consuming, a situation that sometimes is intended to deter litigation even when a government is partially liable for your injuries.
It takes an experienced and patient Florida personal injury and construction accident attorney to sift through and litigate these claims, but you are entitled to compensation for your work zone injuries. If you or a loved one was injured in a work zone accident, whether you were on the job or simply passing through, the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has the personal injury lawyers you need in the greater Tampa Bay area. Call them today at (727) 477-9660 for a free, no-risk consultation about your car accident or contact them online.