What to Know About Work Zone Accidents in Florida
Highway work zone accidents are often a sobering reminder of just how dangerous it can be to not only drive on the roads but work on them as well. We are creatures of habit and a small change in routine might not seem like a big deal. In reality, though, when our normal routes are disrupted by construction work zones, it can create behavioral problems in even the best drivers.
Think about it. What images and emotions come to mind when you think of entering a construction work zone? The frustration of seeing traffic slowing and merging. The anxiety of narrowed lanes with bright orange cones. Human figures standing in the road you would normally be rushing down. Large machines just inches away, making loud noises or emitting noxious smells.
All of these new hazards can be overwhelming for drivers, leading to distractions and emotions that lead to accidents. Additionally, the work crew is doing their best to perform the work. At the same time, their minds are processing the heightened sense of danger of cars disobeying signs or making mistakes. To sum it up, construction work zones are chaotic places for workers and drivers, alike.
However, understanding the underlying contributions to the causes of work zone crashes doesn’t help much when you’re the victim of one. Once you’re in that situation, the only thing you are thinking about is getting the help you need to get back to normal. To help you sort everything out from a legal standpoint, you’re going to need a work zone accident attorney. One that will get you the compensation you need so you can focus less on financials and more on recovering.
Where Can Work Zone Accidents Occur?
Work zone accidents can occur anytime there is heavy traffic that is significantly impacted by construction activities. These include:
- Highways and interstates
- Rural roads
- Arterial roads
- Collector roads
- Parking lots and driveways
Common Causes of Work Zone Collisions
Florida is one of the busiest states in terms of its highway construction projects, and the volume of accidents on Florida’s state highways is no exception. As we touched on above, crashes in work zones are most commonly the result of distracted driving as a primary factor. The most common secondary factor is speeding. In 2019, 135 road workers were involved in fatal accidents. Some alarming work zone accident statistics show us that additionally:
- Driver distraction is more of a factor in work zone accidents than non-work zone accidents.
- Commercial vehicle accidents (such as big rigs) were involved in 33% of fatal crashes.
- Speeding was a significant contributing factor for 31% of fatal crashes.
- Florida work zone accidents accounted for more than 8% of the national fatalities.
- There was an average of one work zone accident every five minutes in 2019.
- From 2015-2019, Florida had more than 50,000 work zone-related accidents.
For highway construction workers, injuries and fatalities are more common from contact with construction vehicles more so than other vehicles. In these instances, there is still some element of distraction for workers. However, the most common secondary factor is work that is done at night, leading to lower visibility.
Who is Liable for a Work Zone Accident?
You have probably heard the terms “Work Zone Safety” and” Duty of Care” but you are not exactly sure what they mean. These are the terms used in the workplace to designate who is responsible for what in an accident. A simple question. But, the answer depends on many different factors and can vary from one case to another.
Thus, it is always advisable to seek professional advice to determine who is liable for a particular type of accident. However, some common examples of who may be held liable for a work zone accident include:
- A driver who acted in a negligent manner and hit another vehicle, pedestrian, bicyclist, or road construction worker. The driver would likely bear most or all of the liability.
- A construction worker was negligent and caused machinery to veer into traffic. Alternatively, the road work was done in such a manner that it presented hazardous conditions to drivers, leading to an accident. The injured driver may be able to sue the company or governmental agency overseeing the work.
- A site manager or employee disregarded safety protocols, which led to an accident and injured a worker. The worker may be able to pursue action against their employer.
Personal negligence is one of the main factors which are considered to contribute to work zone accident injuries. To find out who is responsible for a work zone accident, it is important to hire a reputable lawyer to analyze the situation and determine who is at fault.
What are my Rights as a Driver Injured in a Road Construction Work Zone Accident?
If you have been in an auto accident, the first thing you need to do is consult with a qualified road construction accident lawyer. You must have proof that it was the fault of someone else, you may have a case against the person, company, or agency involved. You should immediately collect all medical records and legal documents, then contact an auto accident lawyer to determine if you have a case.
What are my Rights as a Pedestrian Injured in a Work Zone Accident?
In Florida, there were 11 fatal pedestrian work zone accidents in 2019. If you were a pedestrian injured in an accident in a work zone, the person at fault in the accident may be liable to cover your damages. This may include payment for your lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. You will need to speak with a pedestrian work zone injury attorney as soon as possible.
What are my Rights as a Bicyclist Injured in a Work Zone Accident?
2019 saw nearly 130 fatal bicyclist accidents in work zones in Florida alone. If you were recently injured in a bicycle accident, such as being struck by a construction truck or falling off your bike due to inadequate warning signs, you are likely to have the right to seek compensation. After seeking medical attention, find a qualified work zone crash attorney to discuss your case.
What are my Rights as a Construction Worker Injured in a Work Zone Accident?
When you are injured on the job, you should always report the accident to your supervisor, the employer, or the property management company to either get your treatment or to file a claim. It is essential that you do so as soon as possible to avoid further injuries. If the accident was caused by a negligent driver, you will want to seek out the services of a personal injury attorney.
What Steps Can be Taken to Prevent Road Work Zone Accidents?
Preventing road construction work zone accidents requires the help of both construction workers and drivers. Some steps each one of us can take to prevent accidents include:
- Stay up-to-date on road construction projects in Florida and try to plan a route that will avoid these areas.
- Pay close attention to your surroundings. Watch for vehicles entering and leaving the road, lane changes, signs, worker signals, and more.
- Maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you. Watch for sudden stops to avoid a rear-end collision.
- Maintain your speed at or below the posted speed limit. This gives you more time to react to sudden hazards appearing in front of you.
- Be very cautious around large vehicles. They need much more time to react to hazards, so avoid sudden lane changes.
Why You Should Hire a Work Zone Accident Attorney in Florida
If you have been injured in a work zone accident, you have legal rights that are owed to you. You will need to know what these rights are to deal with the situation appropriately. If you have any questions about how to protect your rights after a highway work zone accident, it is recommended that you speak to a lawyer immediately. Not knowing what your rights are can lead to further complications down the road or an unnecessarily low settlement that is not in your best interest.
At the law firm of Darrigo & Diaz, we have expertise in representing clients in personal injury cases. We’ve been serving the Tampa Bay area for more than 20 years and successfully recovered millions for our clients. We can provide a free consultation where we will discuss your case in confidence. For a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case, contact us 24/7 by calling (813) 774-3341 to discuss your legal options right over the phone.