You don’t have to drive around Broward County for long before discovering that major highway construction projects are commonplace. According to records from the Florida Department of Transportation, there are currently almost 500 active highway and road construction projects throughout the state. These projects are necessary for roadway improvement, but they can pose serious hazards to drivers prior to completion. Construction vehicles, roadside workers, and debris can all lead to highway accidents. If you’ve suffered injuries after being involved in one of these types of wrecks, consult the Fort Lauderdale construction accident lawyers at Kelley/Uustal for legal assistance. You’ll pay no fees until we win your case.
Florida Road Construction
Florida’s population grows at an average rate of 1% per year. More people give rise to the need for larger infrastructures – in other words, constant road construction. Different counties commission highway construction projects to reduce traffic congestion, provide safe and predictable commutes, and maintain free-flowing traffic through express lanes. Florida spends billions of dollars on highway construction every year.
While completed projects can go a long way toward improving driver safety, ongoing roadway construction can pose significant hazards. In the Fort Lauderdale area, ongoing construction projects are currently taking place on I-95, I-75, I-595, and other highways. These projects require hundreds of construction workers, plenty of heavy equipment, and periodic lane shutdowns.
Highway workers and motor vehicle drivers are at risk during roadway construction. Negligent construction crews increase this risk, presenting hazards relating to abandoned equipment, loose gravel, lack of signage, uneven shoulders, and dangerous debris on the road. If someone else’s negligence – or that of the county in charge of the project – contributed to your recent traffic accident, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale.
Negligence and Highway Construction
It may be possible to hold a construction company, government entity, or other parties liable for your construction zone accident in certain circumstances. These parties can make mistakes that lead to major car crashes, property damage, injuries, and wrongful deaths. Learning the most common causes of construction zone accidents on Florida’s highways can help you assign fault in the event of this type of crash. Keep in mind that our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can always help determine defendant(s) after car accidents in Broward County. Common types of negligent road construction include:
- Lack of warning signs. Construction companies have a responsibility to warn drivers of ongoing projects. Federal and state laws specify which types of signage are necessary for certain kinds of construction, how many to use, and where the company must place the signs. Failure to post appropriate signage, such as lower speed limit signs and “Construction Zone Ahead” signs, resulting in injury to motorists or workers, can lead to company liability.
- Dangerous pavement conditions. Altering Southeast Florida’s highways requires a great deal of pavement work. The in-between stages of a project can leave the roadway unsafe for motorists. Uneven pavement can be dangerous to motorists, leading to loss of vehicle control and related accidents. Motorcycles are especially at risk from pavement defects. State laws regulate how construction companies must mark pavement ridges.
- Forcing drivers to perform unsafe maneuvers. Some construction sites have unreasonable expectations for drivers, such as forcing them to make turns that are too sharp for the speed limit. The setup of a construction zone should optimize the safety of both workers and passing drivers.
- Failing to maintain the finished road. Sometimes accidents occur due to issues with roadway maintenance once the construction company has finished the project. Roadway maintenance problems can come down to municipality liability – for example, suing Broward County for a dangerous pothole on the Fort Lauderdale portion of I-75.
Construction companies and entities in charge of highway construction must obey dozens of rules before, during, and after a project for the safety of all involved. Breaking just one rule can result in a preventable car accident or worker injury. An experienced attorney can help injured victims identify the defendant’s duties in a particular situation and assign fault as appropriate for broken construction laws.
Construction Accidents Statistics
According to the Federal Highway Administration, a work zone crash occurred every 5.4 minutes on average in 2015. There were a total of 96,626 work zone crashes the same year – an increase of 7.8% from 2014. At least one person sustained an injury in 26.4% of these accidents (25,485 crashes total), while at least another died in 0.7% (642 accidents) of crashes. In many cases, the construction workers are the victims of these accidents. Here are a few facts about construction fatalities in the U.S. from the year 2014:
- Fatality reports documented 119 construction worker fatalities in 2014.
- Common causes of construction worker death include runovers, backovers, vehicle, collisions, and caught in/between objects or equipment.
- Alcohol was a factor in 25% of work zone crashes.
- About 65% of construction accidents occur during the daytime.
- Fatal construction accidents occur more often during the summer months.
- Urban freeways and arterials accounted for 43% of work zone crashes.
- Almost half (41%) of work zone crashes were rear-end collisions.
- About 85% of work zone crash deaths are drivers and passengers in vehicles.
- One fourth (25%) of work zone motor vehicle deaths involved large trucks.
From 2003 to 2015, 1,571 construction workers lost their lives at roadside sites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Florida was the second-leading state for roadside construction worker fatalities, with 104 deaths over the course of 13 years. Texas was the only state to out-pace Florida, with 171 worker deaths in the same time period. Workers most at risk of fatal accidents are construction laborers, tract trailer drivers, construction equipment operators, first-line site supervisors, and highway maintenance workers.
Who Is Liable for Highway Construction Accidents?
Assigning fault is the first step in pursuing compensation for a highway construction accident in Fort Lauderdale. There may be one or more parties legally responsible for your damages. Determining the defendant may require an investigation of your case, or it might be obvious based on the facts of the crash. An attorney can help you determine the defendant(s) and file the proper paperwork to get a lawsuit started. These cases come down to proof of negligence – the defendant must have been negligent in some way, resulting in the accident.
The three parties most likely at fault for highway construction accidents are the construction company, the city, and the motor vehicle driver. The construction company must obey federal and state laws for keeping sites safe for workers and drivers. They must act as a reasonable and prudent company would to prevent harm. This may include training workers, providing proper safety gear, putting up warning signs, and not leaving behind any hazardous debris or equipment. Florida law holds employers such as construction companies liable for the actions of on-duty employees.
The city of Fort Lauderdale may be liable for the accident if it put an incompetent construction company to work on the highway or failed to provide maintenance on the road after construction. The city government is typically responsible for the condition and safety of roadways. In the event of a construction worker injury, the motorist who caused the incident may be liable for damages. Third parties such as contractors, product manufacturers, or property owners may also share fault for a highway construction crash.
Frequently Asked Questions About Construction Accidents:
If you were recently involved in a construction accident, you might not be sure of your next steps. Being familiar with the personal injury and workers’ compensation process will help you understand your legal options. Here are some answers to some common questions we receive at our firm:
Can I Sue My Employer for Negligence Following a Construction Accident?
Generally, no. The workers’ compensation system follows a no-fault structure. This means that you won’t have to prove your employer was negligent to file a claim and collect benefits. On the other hand, it also means that you cannot pursue an additional personal injury lawsuit against them – even if they were negligent.
What Will My Workers’ Compensation Claim Cover?
Once approved, your workers’ compensation benefits will cover the cost of your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages. If you sustain a serious, temporary or permanently disabling injury, you may be able to collect your benefits for a longer period. If you are unable to return to your old position, your workers’ compensation benefits may provide vocational training for a new profession.
How Do I Collect My Benefits?
Collecting your workers’ compensation benefits requires that you follow a series of steps:
- Report the incident to your employer. One of the biggest reasons for claim denials is failing to report an injury to a supervisor, or failing to do so within the designated time frame. These time limits can be very short, so alert your employer to any injury as soon as you notice symptoms.
- See an in-network provider. Ask you supervisor where to seek medical care, as they may want you to see a doctor approved by their insurance company.
- Follow up. Your supervisor will submit a claim to their workers’ compensation insurance, and they must do so within a certain timeframe. Ask about the status of your claim and reduce the risk of missing any deadlines.
Do I Have Any Other Legal Options?
Construction sites can be dangerous places – in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics cites construction as one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. There are many companies on a construction site at any given time – a general contractor oversees the work, including the subcontractors and vendors. Any of these third parties may be liable for your injuries if their action led to harm. For example, a roofing subcontractor may be responsible for negligently installing roofing material, or a vendor might be liable if they neglected to properly maintain a piece of heavy machinery. We’ve pursued claims against manufacturers, general contractors, building owners, and more.
There are numerous circumstances in which you may be able to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit. That’s why we recommend scheduling a free initial consultation with an attorney to review your legal options as soon as possible. Our Personal Injury attorneys in Fort Lauderdale are committed to holding others responsible for their negligence. Your suit may prevent another’s suffering. To schedule a free case evaluation, please contact us.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Construction Accident Lawyers
Whether you’re an injured construction worker or driver involved in a highway construction accident, come see Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Kelley/Uustal for legal counsel. Our team understands the many laws that may come into play in these kinds of cases in Florida. We can help you learn your rights and pursue just compensation through the most appropriate legal action, whether that’s an insurance settlement or a trial by jury. Call (954) 522-6601 or get in touch online for a free consultation today.