Roadwork is a necessary component of maintaining safe infrastructure for motorists. However, the presence of one increases the dangers for anyone passing through or working on the site. In 2020, 845 people lost their lives in highway work zones, 155 of which were pedestrians and other non-motorists. Furthermore, 19.2% of all worker fatalities were due to causes other than motorist behavior.
If you were the victim of a highway construction zone accident, you might have difficulty figuring out where to turn to recover damages for your injuries. Though your options depend on how you got hurt and whether you are a worker, the truth is that these cases are complex. It’s not uncommon for potentially liable parties to deny responsibility, leaving you confused and stressed at a time when you should be focusing on recovery. Jason Stone Injury Lawyers is here to help in any way we can. Let’s start by clearing up some of the confusion over liability.
Who Might Be Liable in a Highway Construction Zone Accident?
Potential liability in construction zone accident cases varies between motorists and workers. In either situation, fault usually results from another party’s negligent behaviors. Highway worksites are a conglomeration of parties present at the site and those with responsibility even though they aren’t around when the accident occurs.
When one of our attorneys reviews your case, the lawyer will look for evidence of liability at all levels. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to peel back the layers and trace causation back as far as necessary to hold those responsible accountable for your injuries.
Liability in Cases Involving Motorists
Motorists driving through work zones must navigate multiple hazards, including other vehicles and large trucks, often-poor road conditions, work vehicles, workers and construction equipment. Even the most careful drivers may find themselves involved in a serious accident.
You can’t control every hazard in these situations, and another party’s neglectful behaviors may lead to an accident that causes severe damage, including the following:
- Other motorists: Another driver may be liable. It isn’t unusual for motorists to grow impatient in work zones. They may speed, drive recklessly or get distracted.
- Truck drivers: Semi drivers are often under significant stress, and driving through construction zones does not help. However, these conditions do not excuse negligent behaviors. Furthermore, the sheer size of these vehicles often leads to significant harm in work zone accidents.
- Construction workers: Though construction workers themselves are at risk in work zones, a worker may contribute to an accident when operating equipment or driving a work vehicle in an unsafe manner.
- Construction company: The construction company is ultimately responsible for ensuring conditions are safe for drivers, including marking road hazards or diverting traffic away from dangerous situations. Failure to do so may contribute to a car crash.
- External parties: Parties not directly involved at the construction site may also be at fault. These could include government entities, trucking companies, cargo loaders, construction equipment or truck parts manufacturers and maintenance contractors.
Often, more than one party has liability in a highway construction zone accident claim. A skilled Jason Stone Injury Lawyers attorney ensures you can hold all responsible parties accountable.
Liability in Cases Involving Workers
Highway construction is a dangerous job. Even when workers take suitable precautions, they are at risk of injuries. Some hazards are related to their jobs, while others are due to another party’s negligence. Liability in a construction accident is often multi-faceted.
Workers must contend with whether they are eligible for workers’ compensation for a worksite accident. Even when their accidents qualify, insurance companies dispute about half of all claims in Massachusetts. Beyond general industry hazards that are eligible for workers’ compensation coverage, other parties may also have liability, including the following:
- Motorists: Vehicle operators (including commercial trucks) cause more work-zone fatalities than any other source. If a driver hits a worker, the driver most likely bears at least some responsibility. Additionally, when motorists strike barricades or another motorist, the accident can spill over into the worksite and cause worker injuries or fatalities.
- Subcontractors: Injuries in construction zones with multiple companies on site may be the fault of a third-party contractor or subcontractor. If a non-affiliated party’s negligence led to an accident, the workers’ compensation insurance would not provide benefits.
- Other third-party entities: As with injured motorist cases, off-site third-party entities might be at fault in a construction zone accident, including motor carriers, truck and equipment manufacturers, maintenance contractors and government entities.
Workers’ compensation laws can make your claim trickier, so you might want to consult Jason Stone Injury Lawyers to find out your options.
What Laws Impact Highway Construction Zone Accident Cases?
Several laws impact liability and the outcome of your claim, but which ones do depend on whether you are a motorist or a worker.
Relevant Motorist Laws
Two primary laws impact motorists’ liability and coverage: the construction zone speed limit law and insurance coverage requirements. In addition to obeying standard traffic laws, the state has a statute governing speed limits in construction zones. The law stipulates that motorists who drive faster than the posted speed limit receive a fine double the rate outside construction zones.
Massachusetts is a no-fault car insurance state, requiring drivers to carry personal injury protection. As a state resident, your insurance will pay up to $8,000 in medical expenses and wage losses. PIP benefits don’t depend on fault. The state allows you to pursue a legal claim if your injuries are severe or damages exceed policy limits.
Relevant Worker Law
The primary law impacting you if you sustain on-the-job injuries in a highway construction zone accident is the state’s workers’ compensation laws. Unless you meet the legal definition of an independent contractor or subcontractor, you are an employee, and your employer must provide workers’ compensation coverage. In turn, you can’t sue your employer.
Though the insurance is supposed to be no-fault coverage, many workers find it challenging to obtain the benefits they are owed. They often must go through a lengthy and complex dispute process. However, if a third party is at fault, the law does not prevent workers from filing a third-party legal claim.
Relevant Personal Injury Laws
If you pursue a lawsuit, the following two personal injury laws have a significant impact on the outcome of your case:
- Modified comparative negligence: This rule reduces your compensation award by a percentage equal to your degree of liability. If you are more than 50% responsible, you lose your right to recover damages.
- Statute of limitations: You have three years from the accident date or the day you discover your injuries to file a personal injury lawsuit in Massachusetts. If you fail to meet the deadline, you won’t be able to file.
Working with an experienced highway construction zone accident lawyer may improve your chances of a favorable outcome when pursuing a valid personal injury claim.
How Can a Jason Stone Injury Lawyers Construction Zone Accident Lawyer Help?
Jason Stone Injury Lawyers has the experience and legal knowledge to determine who is liable for a highway construction zone accident and hold them accountable. From consultation to settling your claim, we’re here for you every step of the way, whether you file a workers’ comp dispute or personal injury lawsuit. With our Stone Cold Guarantee, you won’t pay anything until we settle your claim. Contact us today to schedule a free case review. There’s No Obligation, Just Information®.