If you’re a resident of Florida, the sight of construction signs and work zones along roadways has probably become all too familiar. Here in the Tampa Bay area “Pray for Me, I Drive on U.S. 19” has become a popular bumper sticker slogan. The bumper sticker references the multi-county road construction project on Route 19 that spans Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. Residents of the Bay area have been dealing with the Pinellas County section of construction since 2009 and the $113.5 million project is not expected to be completed until Summer 2015.
Road work and construction is an essential part of keeping roads safe and free from excessive traffic. Unfortunately, while construction is in progress, roads often become more hazardous for drivers. Work zones sometimes have inadequate or incorrect signage and this can cause serious accidents. Furthermore, a poorly maintained work zone with machinery or debris in the roadway is another potential hazard drivers face. These potential risks combined with careless or distracted drivers make work zones especially dangerous.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, over 87,000 work zone crashes occurred in 2010 alone, with 580 resulting in fatalities. This equates to roughly 1.6 deaths per day in the U.S. as a result of work zone accidents. Texas, Georgia, California and Florida ranked as the four states with most motor vehicle crash fatalities in work zones – each with at least 40 such occurrences. Florida also ranked in the top three states for the most worker deaths in work zones. In seventy percent of these occurrences a pedestrian worker was struck by a vehicle.
In order to avoid accident or injury the Florida Department of Transportation recommends that every driver remain alert, refrain from tailgating and changing lanes in a work zone, and minimize distractions, such as talking or text messaging on a cell phone. Another safety tip for drivers is to watch for workers and equipment, as they may appear unexpectedly.
Despite the best efforts of drivers who heed these precautions, often the negligence of another person makes a construction zone crash unavoidable. In the event that you or someone you know is injured as a result of an auto accident in a work zone it is in your best interest to contact an experienced attorney to determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. In a work zone auto accident the party responsible for your injuries could be another driver(s), the city, county or state conducting the road work, or some combination of both. While filing suit against another driver is a fairly straight forward process for an attorney, bringing suit against a municipality involves special considerations.
When a government entity or city is the defendant in a suit for injuries, special rules apply. The government is protected under the principle of sovereign immunity. In theory, sovereign immunity can bar suits even when a state, city, or its employees and agents are negligent and cause injuries to an individual. That being said, thanks to the passage of Florida Statute 768.28, entitled “Waiver of sovereign immunity in tort actions …”, there are exceptions to the general rule that the State and its subdivisions are immune from tort liability. According to the statute, the government may be held liable for the negligence of its agents or employees under circumstances where a private individual would be liable for property damage, personal injury or wrongful death. However, the law also sets statutory caps on recovery against the government of $200,000 per individual and $300,000 per incident.
If you were the victim of an auto accident that occurred within a work zone and sustained injuries it is imperative that you seek legal representation. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has experience handling a variety of auto accident cases, including those in which the defendant is a municipality. The experienced attorney’s at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can provide you with a free case evaluation and answer any questions or concerns you might have. To reach them call 727-451-6900.