Who's At Fault in a Construction Zone Accident
Road construction is ongoing throughout the Sunshine State, as any Floridian familiar with the orange cones and barrels, warning signs and flashing lights, and heavy construction equipment will tell you. And, it’s not going away any time soon. Economists estimate that more than 900 people move to Florida every day, necessitating highway expansion and infrastructure improvements. Because of this, it’s no surprise that Florida has the third-highest number of construction zone fatalities in the nation, with more than 65% of them involving motor vehicles.
If you’re involved in a construction zone automobile accident, then, you may wonder just who is at fault. But first, let’s take a look at why construction zone accidents happen and the most common construction zone accidents.
Why Do Construction Zone Accidents Happen?
Construction zone accidents probably happen more often than you’d expect. The reason is simple: every construction zone is different, so even experienced drivers can have trouble anticipating what lays ahead and properly navigating around it, no matter how many signs and cones offer direction. Now, put an inexperienced teenager or elderly driver with slower response times behind the wheel in a construction zone, and things get even more dangerous. Of course, the danger is compounded even more at night. Many large construction projects are often performed after dark so as not to disrupt the normal flow of traffic during the day, but the bright lights construction crews use to help them can sometimes unintentionally blind oncoming traffic.
It’s important to understand that the driver is not always at fault, however. In the following sections, you’ll see how workers and equipment can lead to accidents as well.
Most Common Types of Construction Zone Accidents
Understanding the most common types of construction zone accidents is the first step to preventing them from happening. Here are the five most common.
- Rear-end collisions. Tailgating and distracted driving, such as texting, along with not recognizing slow or stopped traffic often leads to rear-end collisions. In addition, when traffic goes from steady to slow, it can throw drivers off their game.
- Sideswipes. Narrow lanes with erratic lane shifts can cause vehicle-to-vehicle sideswipes. Other times, uneven roadways may cause a vehicle’s tire to lose traction, sliding into another vehicle or barrier.
- Striking workers. The most deadly type of construction zone accident, workers performing their job in close proximity to moving vehicles can be of struck by a careless vehicle, or may themselves walk into danger if they’re not paying attention.
- Collisions with work equipment. Drivers colliding with a slow-moving or parked work vehicle, often when trying to pass, often don’t stand a chance if it’s a 40-ton dump truck filled with cement. Equipment can also be left in the road, forcing a driver to swerve and causing an accident.
- Collisions with warning equipment. Weighted barrels and motorized pieces of warning equipment can total a vehicle if struck at high speeds. In addition, improperly placed warning equipment may cause a driver to change paths and strike another vehicle, worker, work equipment, or concrete barrier.
Who's At Fault in a Construction Zone Accident?
The United States has invested money into studies designed to make road and highway construction zones safer for drivers, passengers, and workers. In fact, there is a biennial National Work Zone Management Conference held just to focus on reducing construction site fatalities and injuries while improving traffic management. In Florida, traffic fines are now doubled for violations committed in work zones while workers are present, and warning signs are posted accordingly. However, accidents happen.
While drivers are sometimes to blame for construction zone accidents, negligent workers, poorly placed or malfunctioning signs, erratically parked work vehicles, and improperly placed equipment and lighting can also play a role or be the sole cause of the accident. For these reasons, accidents that happen in construction zones usually go through an investigation process to determine if a claim should be against another driver or the construction crew or company. Ultimately, liability comes down to determining the main cause of the accident.
Avoiding Construction Zone Accidents
Just because traffic is often moving slower in construction zones doesn’t mean they’re less dangerous. Accidents can happen in a split second, so it’s important to always proceed with caution. Here are a few tips from the Florida Department of Transportation to keep in mind the next time you travel through a construction zone.
- Be Alert. Pay attention to the road and your surroundings in the work zone.
- Don’t Tailgate. Unexpected stops frequently occur in work zones. Allow at least two car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Minimize Distractions. Avoid changing radio stations and using cell phones while driving in the work zone. Dedicate your full attention to the roadway.
- Expect the Unexpected. Work zones are changing environments. Keep an eye out for workers and their equipment.
- Don’t Speed. Follow the posted speed limits in and around the work zone.
Were You Involved in a Construction Zone Accident?
If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a construction zone accident and you don’t believe you’re at fault, make sure you get the compensation you deserve! Contact the compassionate experts at Lowman Law Firm. We will discuss your case with you and provide legal guidance. If we take your case, you can be sure we’ll do everything we can to get you the best possible outcome, in as little time as possible. And as always, we don’t get paid unless you do.