Highway work zones are an everyday reality for most drivers, often leading to delays and dreaded congestion. However, highway work zones are more than just a nuisance to drivers; they can be extremely dangerous to construction workers. In fact, there were 1,580 work zone accidents in Pennsylvania in 2021 and of those, there were 16 fatalities and nearly 900 injuries. And just last month, a driver barreled through a concrete wall on Interstate 695 in Maryland, killing six construction workers.
As the summer road construction season reaches its peak this time of year, now is a good time to review what we can do to keep our road workers safe. Let’s take a look at the potential dangers associated with highway work zones, tips for preventing accidents in a work zone, and who may be liable in a construction zone accident.
Dangers of Work Zones
Transportation construction work is essential for building roads, highways, and bridges, but it can also be one of the most dangerous industries to work in. From large construction vehicles and cranes to sharp tools and hazardous materials, there are many potential dangers that can pose a threat to the safety of workers and anyone else in the vicinity of a road construction site.
Every construction zone has its own sets of risks including many of the following hazards:
Speeding motorists pose a significant risk to road construction workers as they are often working in close proximity to traffic that is moving at high speeds. The workers are typically focused on their tasks and may not be aware of vehicles approaching at high speeds until it’s too late.
When a vehicle is traveling above the posted speed limit, it increases the likelihood that the driver will lose control, which can cause collisions and put workers at risk of injury or death. Workers operating heavy equipment and machinery may not be able to react quickly enough to avoid an accident caused by a speeding motorist. It’s crucial for drivers to obey posted speed limits and other traffic rules when driving through work zones to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
When traffic is congested, it can be challenging for drivers to navigate a construction zone, which increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries. Workers who are on foot or operating heavy equipment may be difficult for drivers to see or avoid, particularly if visibility is low or if there are other distractions such as signage, barricades, or detours.
Additionally, congestion can slow down emergency response times in the event of an accident, putting workers’ safety at even more risk. For these reasons, it’s essential for drivers to exercise caution and be alert when driving through work zones to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of workers and everyone else on the road.
Inclement weather is a risk to road construction workers because it can make working conditions much more hazardous. For example, heavy summer rain can make surfaces slick and create slippery conditions for drivers, increasing the risk of work zone crashes.
In addition, inclement weather can create hazardous work conditions for road construction crews. High winds can make it difficult to control tools and equipment, putting workers at risk of falls or being hit by flying debris. Hot weather and high humidity can also cause heat exhaustion, dehydration, and other heat-related illnesses for construction workers who are working outside for extended periods without access to shade or water.
Road construction is one of the most dangerous industries and workers who are injured on the job may feel overwhelmed. If you or someone you know has been injured while working in a road construction zone, you may be eligible for compensation through a personal injury claim and/or workers’ comp. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights.
Tips for Preventing Accidents
As drivers, we have a responsibility to ensure the safety of others on the road, especially in construction work zones where road workers are exposed to dangerous equipment and uncertain road conditions. Drivers can reduce the risk of accidents in work zones by following a few simple rules.
- Slow down when entering a work zone. The reduced speed gives you better control over your vehicle and allows you to react in time to unexpected changes in the road.
- Stay alert to your surroundings and be prepared to stop suddenly. Work zones often require narrow lanes or detours, and uneven road surfaces that can easily cause accidents. By staying alert, you can maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and avoid collisions.
- Avoid any distractions when driving. This means putting away your phone or any other devices that may take your attention away from the road. Even a slight distraction can lead to an accident in a work zone.
- Follow instructions provided by road workers, such as obeying any signs or signals given. By following these rules and remaining alert in construction work zones, you can play an essential role in ensuring the safety of road workers and fellow motorists.
Pennsylvania’s work zone laws are designed to protect workers and motorists. Violations can result in fines, loss of your license, and in some cases, even imprisonment. Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility—let’s all do our part.
Who is Liable for a Construction Zone Accident
In cases where road construction workers are injured in motor vehicle accidents, it can be complicated to determine who is liable. It may be one or more parties, depending on the circumstances. Liability may fall upon the:
Driver(s): The driver(s) of the vehicle(s) involved in the accident may be held accountable for their role in the collision. This may be the case if the driver was found to have been negligent, reckless, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.
Construction Company or Contractor: Another party that may be held liable for road construction worker injuries is the construction company or contractor. This is often the case if the workers were not provided with adequate safety equipment or if proper safety procedures were not put in place. Additionally, if the construction workers were not clearly visible to drivers or if the road signage was inadequate, the onus may fall on the contractors responsible for the construction site.
Government Agency: The government agency overseeing the road construction project may also be held responsible for worker injuries. This may occur if the agency failed to ensure that the construction site met all necessary safety standards or failed to adequately monitor the site to ensure the safety of workers and motorists alike.
Ultimately, determining liability in these types of incidents requires careful investigation and analysis of the circumstances and contributing factors involved. A personal injury lawyer can help injured road construction workers navigate the legal system to recover compensation for their injuries. If you’ve been injured in a work zone, consult with an attorney before settling with the insurance company.
Work Zone Accident Attorneys in Lancaster, Pa.
At Georgelis, Larsen & Sabatino Injury Law Firm, P.C., we understand how traumatic an injury can be for a worker and for their family. In addition to physical injuries, workers can also suffer emotional stress and financial hardships before they can return to work. Between medical bills, lost wages, and physical and emotional stress, recovering can be a long and hard process.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a work zone, our team of attorneys and paralegals can help reduce your stress by taking on the legal system for you. We have a deep understanding of the law and can advise you on your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation. We can guide you through complex legal processes and procedures, including filing insurance claims and lawsuits, negotiating with insurance companies, and representing you in court if necessary.
We offer free, no-obligation consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, which means we only get paid if we win your case. You don’t have to do this alone – contact us online or call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a free case review. Working with the best personal injury law firm available can give you the greatest chance of recovering compensation to help you rebuild your life after a work zone injury accident.