Traffic was disrupted for several hours on the afternoon of October 17, 2017, after a construction zone accident near the intersection of Route 22 and Beards Hill Road in Aberdeen, Maryland. The crash downed a light pole that affected traffic lights, which led authorities to close off certain sections of the turning lanes and roadway. Online news source Patch.com reported that, around 11:30 a.m., officials issued warnings to motorists to steer clear of the area and take alternate routes to avoid additional incidents. The alert continued into rush hour and extended into the evening, with the hopes that no additional work zone crashes would occur as crews engaged in repairs.
It is wise for law enforcement to take extra precautions around construction zones, as the environment is prone to car accidents for a number of reasons. However, despite the warnings, auto collisions still happen in these areas and cause injuries to thousands of victims every year. If you have been hurt in a traffic-related incident and conditions at a work zone may be to blame, consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney right away about your options for seeking compensation. You might also find some general information useful regarding Maryland law on construction zone car accidents.
Statistics on Car Accidents Around Construction Zones
The US Department of Transportation tracks traffic incidents in construction areas through its Work Zone Management Program. A recent report covering the time period from 2008-2015 reveals:
- There were approximately 96,000 accidents in construction zones in 2015, which represents a modest increase of 7.8% over the previous year. However, the statistics from 2013 are shocking: 67,887 accidents, which is a whopping 42% increase compared to 2015.
- In 2015, the average number of construction zone crashes that injured at least one person was 70 per day.
- On average, there were 12 work zone collisions involved at least one death per week.
- Around 26% of all construction area accidents caused at least one injury, and .07% of these incidents resulted in at least one fatality. These numbers are roughly similar to accidents that were non-work-zone related.
Causes of Work Zone Crashes
There are multiple conditions that are unique to construction zones and which are more likely to lead to car accidents. Some of these factors are a result of negligence of crews and construction developers, where others are associated with motorist carelessness:
- Failure to allow a safe, wide lane for motorists to use when navigating through a construction zone;
- Insufficient signage at points far enough in advance, so that motorists could properly prepare upon notification that a work zone lies ahead;
- Failure to establish a transition zone, which would enable cars leaving the construction site to smoothly flow back into normal traffic;
- Not marking a transition zone with proper signage, so that normally flowing traffic is aware that cars are leaving the construction area;
- Pavement drop-offs, that can cause cars to skid or careen out of control;
- Uneven surfaces and bumps;
- A reduction in the number of lanes of traffic or narrowing of lanes;
- Improper or confusing cut off of turn lanes;
- The presence of construction equipment that interferes with traffic flow;
- A motorist’s confusion and failure to understand signage regarding work zone routes;
- Motorists speeding, failing to obey signage, and distracted driving, such as texting, talking on a cell phone, operating the radio, or using a GPS device; and,
- Many other factors.
Complicated Liability Issues for Victims of Work Zone Car Accidents
When another motorist’s actions lead to a car accident, the same legal liability issues apply regardless of whether or not the incident occurs in a construction zone. As an injured victim, you must show that the responsible driver’s negligence caused the crash, and that you suffered losses as a result of the injuries. In the majority of cases, you would file a claim with the negligent motorist’s insurance company and attempt to negotiate a settlement; if you and the insurer cannot agree on a reasonable sum, you have the option of filing a lawsuit.
However, when work zone conditions contribute to a car accident, liability becomes much more complicated. It is necessary to identify the specific factor that caused the crash, such as improper signage, narrow lanes, or the presence of construction equipment. Then, you must pinpoint the party or parties that were directly associated with that condition. Possible defendants may include:
- The general contractor overseeing the construction project; and,
- Any subcontractors retained by the general contractor.
Plus, note that general contractors and subcontractors are required to carry proper insurance coverage for incidents that may occur on their construction sites. Therefore, you would most likely pursue an insurer when filing a claim for compensation.
In addition, construction on roadways is typically a public project, which means there are government agencies and departments involved. Liability can extend up to federal, state, and local government divisions, but there are different rules that apply when you seek compensation for damages in a personal injury case.
Discuss a Construction Zone Car Accident with a Knowledgeable Lawyer
If you have been injured in a car accident in a work zone, there are multiple parties that may be liable for your losses. It is possible to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages, but it is important to have an experienced attorney represent your interests.
The lawyers at Bob Katz Law have assisted many clients in seeking the compensation they deserve under Maryland law, and they can help you, too. Our attorneys start by reviewing the details of your case to determine which party or parties is legally responsible for the construction zone crash. We will file a claim and attempt to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company, but we will aggressively pursue your right to compensation in court if necessary. For more information on our litigation services in car accidents and other personal injury cases, please contact our office in Baltimore. We are happy to set up a case assessment or answer any questions about your options.