Yes. Most states recognize that the constant presence of speeding cars makes highways a dangerous and likely place for severe injuries. As a result, contractors are generally obligated to exercise reasonable precautions when constructing on public highways.
Failure to do so can make a contractor liable for any injuries that result. Since highway constructions zones can be a very dangerous place, the contractors and construction workers must provide adequate and proper measures to warn drivers of the construction zone. Proper barriers must also be included to help drivers navigate through the construction zone without being interfered with other drivers.
Common Causes of Highway Construction Zone Accidents
Some of the most common highway construction accidents that cause injuries to drivers are as follows:
- Inadequate Maintained Highways: The roads of the highway is poorly maintained and has things such as potholes, highway barriers, pavement defects, improper lighting, obstructed roads.
- Failure to Post Construction Signs: The construction zone is not properly zoned and not enough signs are posted to warn drivers of the construction zone.
- Difficult Construction Zone Intersections: The construction zone barriers are improperly placed making it difficult for drivers to navigate at such high speeds.
What Does It Mean for a Contractor to Exercise "Reasonable Precautions"?
Though states vary on what exactly are reasonable precautions, the general idea is to make sure construction interferes with highway drivers as little as possible. Some of the more common precautions courts usually require include:
- Barricades to isolate construction zones from main highways
- Signs indicating construction and warning of oncoming hazards
- Proper lighting to ensure that drivers can see the construction
- Limiting construction to times when driver levels are at their lowest
Who Is Liable for Highway Construction Accidents?
Liability on who is at fault for highway accidents that occur in construction zones depend on whether the fault was caused by the construction or other factors such as traffic, weather, speed limits, or the driver. When the cause of the accident was the construction company, the city or state can be held liable for the accident. Since the local government has a duty to maintain the roads that we drive on, they will be held liable if they hired the construction company to do the work on the highways and the company failed to exercise reasonable care.
Although the above precautions are definitely helpful, courts generally determine injury liability on a case-by-case basis. This involves looking into a number of factors beyond whether or not reasonable cautions were taken. For example, in some cases, it's possible to see contractors being held liable for injuries even though construction signs were visibly placed along the highway.
What If the Entire Road Itself Is Closed for Construction?
If the road is closed, contractors generally will not be liable for any injury. If a driver decides to drive on a closed road, courts usually assign most of the blame for injury on the driver.
Does It Matter If an Injury Occurs During the Night or Daytime?
Yes. Given the lack of visibly, most courts require even more precautions from contractors during highway construction at night. Consequently, contractors have a greater chance of being held liable for driver injuries that occur during night hours. If the cause of the accident was caused by lack of visibility, weather, traffic control and not because of the construction companies fault, the constructiom company will not be held liable for the accident or injuries.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me?
If you a driver who was severely injured as a result of highway construction, you should contact a personal injury attorney to learn about any legal claims you may have. A lawyer can look into your state's local highway construction laws, and help determine whether the contractor failed to exercise reasonable precautions, leading to your injury.