The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently observed National Work Zone Awareness Week. The initiative, which is sponsored by the American Traffic Safety Services Association, seeks to educate American drivers about the dangers that workers face in highway work zones. According to data provided by TxDOT, around 1500 Texas workers are injured in work zones crashes every year. Drivers, employers and local governments all need to do a better job protecting our workers.
Why Work Zone Accidents Happen
After recognizing the unacceptably high number of work zone employee injuries, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) conducted an extensive study on why so many highway work zone accident take place. The study found that many accident were similar, and that there were recurring factors were consistently to blame for highway work zone crashes. The factors included:
- Drivers speeding through the work zone;
- Drivers failing to adjust to the weather conditions and losing control of their vehicle;
- Poor work zone design causing driver confusion, which often led to drivers taking an incorrect path through the area; and
- The failure to adequately warn drivers of the work zone, leading to drivers taking last second, and, dangerous evasive action.
Who is Liable for Highway Work Zone Injuries?
A work zone injury victim can potentially hold several different parties liable for the accident. This includes the driver of the vehicle, their employer, a third party company or potentially even the local or state government. The TTI study makes it clear why so many different parties might bear liability, and also and why these injuries cases often become particularly complex. Many times several of the risk factors will be combined together to create an especially dangerous situation for the highway workers. Consider the following scenario:
- There is light rain;
- A driver is speeding; and
- The work zone was poorly designed requiring drivers to make an unusual lane change.
The driver and the entity responsible for the poor design should both bear legal responsibility for the employee’s injuries. But, in this scenario, a complex legal situation will likely emerge and many different parties may start pointing fingers at each other. You could even have two different contractors blaming each other over the poor design of the work zone. Sorting out liability in this type of situation can be challenging. It is important to have an experienced work injury attorney on your side immediately. On investigation, it may turn out that only one party was actually liable for the work zone injuries, or it may be necessary bring a motion for joinder to bring legal action against multiple responsible parties at the same time. Ultimately, getting recovery for damages requires comprehensive analysis of the situation to determine which parties can be held liable.
Need Legal Assistance?
We work aggressively to fight for fair compensation for injured Texas workers. We can help you get through any complex work injury case. If you were injured while working in highway construction, call our San Antonio office at (210) 308-8811 as soon as possible to schedule a free legal consultation.