All throughout the year, men and women across our state work hard on our highways to ensure that they remain in peak condition. As such, it’s not uncommon to pass through a construction zone while traveling on a state highway. These work zones must always be treated with the utmost caution given that there are many workers present at any given time. This is why most work zones require you to decrease your speed significantly while passing through.
But of course, you likely know all of this if you regularly work in a highway construction zone. After all, you are used to putting your safety on the line each day to ensure that the job is done properly. However, not all motorists on the roads are as concerned with safety and a job well done as you are. In fact, as you may have learned first-hand, highway construction zone accidents can and do occur.
At the least, such an accident can cause you to miss a significant amount of work while you are injured. However, in some cases, this kind of serious accident could leave you with a permanent injury or a lifetime of pain. In either case, you deserve compensation for this accident that you had no part in causing. Litigation may be your best option for achieving this necessary goal.
This guide will help you understand who you can and should sue in the wake of your highway construction zone accident. In addition, this guide will highlight some of the state’s laws as they relate to the most common causes of roadway construction safety. With all of this information in mind, you’ll be ready to take the next step and call a qualified construction zone lawyer, such as those at the Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky.
What are Common Causes of Roadway Construction Zone Accidents ?
Any number of events can cause a work zone accident. In almost all cases, though, a construction zone accident leads to serious injuries for the victimized workers. You may have found yourself in that very situation and are now planning to seek proper compensation. Before setting out on that course of action, take some time to understand these various causes of roadway accidents. With them in mind, you’ll be better able to pursue a successful legal strategy with your personal injury attorney.
Work zones are often the sight of stop-and-go traffic. Even when traffic is flowing through a roadway construction zone, it is often running at a greatly decreased speed. This rate of progression is designed to make the work zone safe for workers and allow them time to see all passing vehicles. However, one simple act on a single driver’s part can throw this balanced system into chaos – speeding.
A significant number of highway construction zone accidents can be attributed to speeding. Whether due to impatience or an unwillingness to follow revised speed limits, a driver who speeds in a work zone puts all of the zone’s workers and their fellow law-abiding motorists at risk. Construction zone workers in particular are most endangered by this practice given that they have far less time to respond to an incoming threat when the vehicle in question is moving towards them at a rapid clip.
Excessive speeding is not the only hazardous driving behavior in a work zone. In fact, a construction worker may be put in an equal amount of danger if a single motorist ignores the posted construction zone signage. These bright orange signs often indicate changes in traffic flow as well as demarcate an upcoming detour. If these or a temporary speed limit sign are ignored, a construction worker may be caught unaware when a motorist suddenly veers off course.
Work zone distractions have more recently become a major threat to construction workers. With the preponderance of handheld electronics available today, some drivers simply refuse to keep their hands free and their attention focused while behind the wheel. This can cause a driver to miss an obvious warning sign and place many construction workers in danger. Distracted drivers often have a slowed reaction time, so they may be placed on a crash course with little advance warning.
Though many don’t think of it immediately, untimely merging can also lead to accidents in or near a work zone. In a construction site, merging is usually prohibited because of the ongoing movement of workers and work vehicles. Meanwhile, a great deal of merging takes place just before the start of a work zone due to narrowing lane usage. An improper merge at either of these occasions can cause a sudden crash, which in turn could endanger nearby workers.
When Can a Driver Can Be Held Liable?
When it comes to holding anyone accountable for a work zone accident, your first instinct might be to look into the driver who initiated the accident. This can be a very natural conclusion, as it is very possible that their negligence or aggression behind the wheel caused an accident to occur in an otherwise safe work zone. Also, the majority of work zone accidents can be chalked up to an individual driver’s actions, regardless of what type of accident is precipitated.
If you want to be able to hold a single driver accountable for the accident that injured you, you’ll first need to find out who was behind the wheel when the accident occurred. You’ll likely be able to find this in the police report that is filed by the responding police department. Then, you’ll need to speak with an accident attorney and learn about your options for suing them. Once that process begins, you’ll also likely need to gather evidence that demonstrates that driver’s sole fault in the matter, either through negligence or another illegal driving behavior.
When Can a Construction Company Can be Held Liable?
While the concept of holding a driver accountable for a work zone accident is fairly straight forward, you may find it more challenging to hold your construction company liable for your accident. This is because, as a larger entity, they are likely more equipped to deny liability and fight lawsuits filed against them in court. Don’t let that intimidate you, though, particularly if you know one of the following actions or procedures took place at your work site:
• Confusing signage that makes it difficult to know the posted speed limit or lane allowances
• Improperly placed signage that directed traffic into an area where workers were present
• Inadequate warning lights, especially during nighttime construction jobs
• Excessive warning lights that may have impaired a driver’s vision
• Poor maintaining of the construction site, particularly when it comes to removing known hazards
• Any workplace behavior that is non-compliant with state or federal construction site safety standards (such as those from OSHA)
What are the Work Zone Safety Laws for Pennsylvania ?
If you plan to seek litigation in order to obtain compensation for your highway construction zone accident, then you should know this state’s laws regarding work zone safety. In fact, whether you choose to hold a driver or the construction company liable, these laws may serve as a productive basis for your impending lawsuit.
First and foremost, all motorists must have their headlights active when entering a work zone. This includes during the daytime and during weather conditions that would not otherwise warrant their activation. This allows workers in the zone to see an incoming vehicle, even from a distance. However, this rule applies even in posted work zones when workers are not present.
Most interstate work zones are required to most a speed-monitoring device at the zone’s entrance. These devices must alert drivers to their current traveling speed and compel them to slow down if they are exceeding the work zone speed limit (which must also be posted nearby). An “Active Work Zone When Flashing” sign must also be posted when necessary, and its attached white light must be flashing when any workers are in the area.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) also keeps updated records of all relevant work zone safety laws. With some time and research, these laws can help drivers, construction workers, and construction workers better understand their safety obligations when entering a work zone. You can read more about these important laws and regulations on their website.
Hiring a Lawyer following a Construction Zone Accident
Now that you understand your options regarding litigation of your recent highway construction zone accident, you can take the next step towards compensation with confidence. In fact, your newly acquired knowledge may even help you advocate for your own safety going forward, thus preventing other works from having to suffer as you did.
But at the present time, your plans for litigation should not be initiated without proper guidance. To obtain that, you need to find a construction accident lawyer who is willing to advocate for you tirelessly. For work zone accident victims across Pennsylvania, that means calling the Law Offices of Joel J. Kofsky. They can answer all of your questions about suing for liability as well as help you figure how much compensation you deserve based upon your injuries and suffering.