Construction work is essential on California's highways and freeways. However, they can be extremely dangerous for workers who are on the job. Negligent drivers who fail to follow signs or drive while distracted, impaired, drowsy or speeding could end up causing devastating construction zone crashes, which could result in life changing injuries for workers.
If you are a construction worker who has suffered an injury in a work zone accident because of a negligent driver, you may be able to receive workers' compensation benefits and file a third-party claim against the negligent driver. An experienced construction accident lawyer in Los Angeles can provide you with more information about pursuing your legal rights.
Key Points - Table of Contents
- Construction Zone Crashes Affect Workers
- Vehicle Codes That Apply to California Work Zones
- Who Can Be Held Liable?
- What Damages Can You Recover?
- Getting the Help You Need
Construction Zone Crashes Affect Workers
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, from 2003-2020, 2,222 workers lost their lives at road construction sites – an average of 123 per year. Over the decade from 2011 to 2020, Texas ranked as the state with the most worker deaths at road construction sites (143), followed by Florida (99), Pennsylvania (60), Indiana (52), Illinois (51), California (49) and Tennessee (49).
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), between 2019 and 2020, fatal crashes in work zones increased by 1.4 % while fatal crashes outside of work zones increased by 6.6%. Although there were decreases in the percentages of fatal work zone crashes involving rear-end collisions as well as those involving a commercial motor vehicle, these were offset by an increase in fatal work zone crashes that involved speeding. In 2019, nearly 25% of all fatal work zone crashes involved rear-end collisions.
While drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists are all affected by work zone cashes, construction workers are exposed to these dangers posed by negligent drivers as they work on construction sites. There are a number of common construction injuries that can cause serious injuries. Construction workers working near roadways depend on drivers following signs and directions to slow down and proceed with caution. When drivers fail to do so, those who work in these construction zones suffer serious consequences.
Vehicle Codes That Apply to California Work Zones
There are laws in place that require motorists to exercise due care while driving through construction zones. California Vehicle Code Section 22362 states that it is a violation of the state's Basic Speed Law for any person to operate a vehicle in excess of the posted speed limit where there is a work zone.
"This section applies only when appropriate signs, indicating the limits of the restricted zone, and the speed limit applicable therein, are placed by such agency within 400 feet of each end of such zone. The signs shall display the figures indicating the applicable limit, which shall not be less than 25 miles per hour, and shall indicate the purpose of the speed restriction. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to relieve any operator of a vehicle from complying with the basic speed law."
This law essentially prohibits drivers from traveling faster than is reasonable or at a speed that puts people or property in danger. This also means that drivers can violate the law even if they don't exceed the posted limit. Drivers must consider all conditions, including traffic, weather and work zone conditions, as they choose a safe speed. Evidence of violating the rules of the road can be used as evidence of negligence in a civil personal injury lawsuit against the driver.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the worksite accident, a number of parties can be held accountable:
Negligent drivers: All motorists owe to duty of care to operate in a responsible manner. Under California law, motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs or those who speed, drive distracted or while fatigued could be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses they cause. These types of negligent behaviors are particularly dangerous in work zones where those operating in the construction site find themselves in harm's way.
If you are a construction worker who has been injured by a negligent driver, you may have a personal injury claim against the driver (a third party), in addition to seeking workers' compensation benefits through your employer. Your personal injury claim will be strengthened by the fact that the defendant was acting negligently, thereby causing your injury.
Construction companies: Sometimes, accidents involving vehicles in construction zones occur because of safety violations in the worksite. Construction companies in charge of these projects have a responsibility to make sure that there is appropriate signage and safety measures such as guardrails and bollards to protect workers in a construction zone.
Contractors and sub-contractors: These types of accidents could also occur when contractors and sub-contractors working on a project are lax with safety measures. These are also third parties who could be held liable for work zone vehicle accidents depending on the facts and details of the case.
Government agencies: If dangerous site conditions were caused by a governmental agency or if the vehicle that struck the construction worker was operated and/or owned by a governmental entity, that agency could be held liable for the injuries and damages caused. Under California Government Code Section 911.2, any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental agency must be filed with six months of the accident or injury.
What Damages Can You Recover?
When you file a construction injury lawsuit in your work injury case, you can seek compensation for a wide range of economic and non-economic damages including medical expenses; lost wages and lost earning capacity; permanent injuries and disabilities; scarring and disfigurement; and past and future pain and suffering. A number of these losses cannot be claimed under workers' compensation. So, if you have been injured due to third-party negligence, it would be in your best interest to contact an experienced California work injury lawyer who can help determine if you have a third party injury claim.
Getting the Help You Need
Negotiating with an insurance company or dealing with other entities such as corporations or governmental agencies in construction zone accidents is no mean task and there is a lot at stake. At Greenberg and Ruby Injury Attorneys, APC, our work injury lawyers have a long and successful track record of handling complex and challenging worksite accident cases, and securing maximum compensation for injured clients and their families. We will thoroughly investigate your case, gather crucial evidence to support for claim for damages and work diligently in every possible way to help you get the compensation you rightfully deserve. Call us today to schedule your free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.