Work Zone Fatalities on the Rise in Recent Years
Although many motorists complain about it, road construction is necessary to keep our roadways safe and well-maintained. This is especially important in states like West Virginia, where heavy snowfalls during the winter combined with below freezing temperatures put a ton of wear and tear on our roads. Come springtime, potholes litter the landscape, making it much harder to travel safely around the state.
To repair our streets, roads, highways, and bridges, construction workers are forced to put in hundreds of man hours throughout the warm months. Construction zone workers have a very dangerous job. They must work with heavy machinery and equipment, hard objects, and in tight and enclosed areas where vehicles are continually passing through. To top it all off, much of this work is performed after dark when there are fewer cars on the road and less disruption to traffic.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, hundreds of construction zone workers are killed and more than 20,000 are injured in road construction accidents each year. Many of these accidents are caused by employer negligence; resulting in workers being struck by objects, caught in-between construction equipment and machinery, being backed into or run into by a construction vehicle, and similar incidents.
A large percentage of these injuries and fatalities are also caused by driver negligence. Some common ways motorists cause work zone injuries include:
- Aggressive/reckless driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
In West Virginia, speeding in a construction zone is a criminal violation, which is punishable with fines of up to $200 and up to 20 days in jail. Motorists who cause construction zone accidents may face other criminal charges as well, such as reckless driving or DUI. Unfortunately, the imposition of criminal penalties does little to comfort construction zone workers who suffer serious injuries or families of construction zone workers who are killed by the actions of negligent or reckless motorists.
At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., our lawyers have stood up for the working people of West Virginia for several decades. When we take a case, we thoroughly investigate the accident and the circumstances that resulted in the construction zone worker’s injury or death, and we fight hard for every dollar of compensation our clients are entitled to.
These cases can be highly complex, because they could potentially involve legal action against multiple potential parties. There are several regulations and industry safety standards which govern how highway work zones are set up. These include specific rules on signage, the distance from the work where the signage and warnings begin, the specific types and locations of barriers for the work zone, and the specific distances for notice of lane changes and lane closures.
There are situations where the company setting up the work zone may have violated governing regulations and standards. In those cases, workers injured or killed may have claims not only against the driver involved in the incident, but also against the company setting up the work zone.
This is why it is extremely important to work with attorneys who have in-depth experience with these types of cases, and the proven ability to successfully explore all potential legal avenues toward recovering damages. This not only ensures that victims and their families are fully compensated, but also that all responsible parties are held fully accountable.
What is Driving the Increase in Work Zone Injuries and Fatalities?
As our infrastructure ages, more resources are being dedicated to fixing America’s roads and bridges. This means there are a greater number of road construction projects each year in West Virginia and throughout the country. This also comes at a time when our population continues to grow, and traffic congestion continues to increase. These conditions alone put more construction zone workers at risk of injury.
There is another factor that is making things more dangerous for those who work in construction zones – distracted driving. Motorists have always had distractions, but our increasingly digitized society makes it more difficult for drivers to stay off of their cell phones.
Texting while driving and similar activities are especially dangerous, because they distract motorists in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. In other words, when a motorist is texting on their smartphone, this commands their entire focus and attention, which puts themselves and those they share the roads with in greater danger.
A recent study by the Strategic Highway Research Program found that distracted drivers are 29 times more likely to be involved in a work zone collision or near collision. This comprehensive nine-year study showed that drivers who spend any length of time distracted by a cell phone call, text, or another source when they are driving through a construction zone significantly increase their risk of a collision. In 2017, there were 799 work zone fatalities nationally, the highest number recorded in a decade.
Suffered a Road Construction Zone Injury in West Virginia? Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter
If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed in a road construction work zone accident that was caused by the negligence or reckless actions of another party, you deserve to be fully compensated. Call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.