Following a spate of serious crashes in highway construction zones, officials with the Texas Department of Transportation are urging motorists to use caution in these areas.
KXAN.com reported the agency unveiled statistics showing 25,000 car accidents in Texas construction zones in Texas. There was also a 27 percent increase in the number of work zone fatalities last year, as compared to 2015. While it's true that traffic deaths are up overall, according to recent traffic safety figures, it has not increased at this same pace.
The DOT's new public awareness campaign is titled, "Humans at Work," and the idea is to drive home the point that those who work in construction zones are real people: Mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters and friends. When motorists speed through these areas or proceed without appropriate caution, they risk harming real people, their families, their employers and their communities.
Construction workers as a whole have a much higher-than-average workplace injury rate than those in other industries. Roadway construction workers have a higher-than-average rate of job site injury compared to those in other construction fields. While this is a known risk, it's not an inevitable one. In the majority of cases, the catalyst is a driver who is speeding, distracted or impaired.
In these situations, workers who are injured may have numerous avenues from which to recover damages.
Generally, the first avenue from which injured workers may seek coverage is via workers' compensation. But workers' compensation is limited in terms of what it covers. That is why a third-party lawsuit may be an important route for an injured construction worker to seek compensation.
A third-party claim is a claim against someone other than your employer who bears responsibility for your workplace injury. In the case of highway construction accidents, the motorist at fault for the accident would be an example of the third party. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, other responsible third parties could include a vehicle manufacturer or another company working on the same site.
Third party lawsuits allow injured workers to pursue compensation for damages for pain and suffering, loss of future earning potential and mental anguish - damages not available through workers' compensation. Speaking about these options with an experienced injury lawyer is important because you don't want to miss out on an opportunity for compensation.
Officials report that of those 25,000 work zone crashes statewide in Texas last year, 180 resulted in deaths and at least 750 people suffered injury. Of those who died, seven were construction workers.
State legislators recently passed a measure requiring motorists approaching construction zones to either move over into the next lane or else slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit.
Construction zones are often inherently hazardous, and slowing one's speed can go a long way to protect not just the workers, but motorists too.
As the National Traffic Safety Institute reports, some of the dangers often noted in highway construction zones:
- Detours leading to unfamiliar routes;
- Large construction or maintenance vehicles obstructing driver vision of the road ahead;
- Drivers who wait until the last minute to reduce speed;
- Erratic lane patterns and inconsistent speed regulations;
- Lack of shoulder and/ or median areas.
If you are injured in a highway construction accident, our experienced attorneys can help you thoroughly explore your legal options.