Florida motorists may think that vehicular work zone accidents on state highways always result in injuries or death to construction workers. According to the statistical data provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, the opposite is true. On average, approximately 85% of deaths in work zones across the U.S. were drivers and passengers in vehicles traveling the roadway. More than 50% of those accidents involved hitting an object and half of the objects were a large truck, whereas only 12% of non-work zone accidents involved a large truck.
Although the majority of road construction accidents are related to driver error, such as exceeding the posted speed limit in a work zone, driving while under the influence, or distracted driving, roadside contractors have also been found to be negligent and liable for damages. Allegations presented in personal injury and wrongful death claims against contractors may include inadequate warning signage, failure to adhere to state contract specifications, improper placement of control devices, failed control devices, and failure to comply with work zone standards, or traffic control plans.
All states, except Wyoming, have laws that increase penalties for speeding or committing other traffic violations in roadside construction zones. In our state, fines for traffic tickets are set by each county and not the Florida DMV. However, the State of Florida enacted laws that double how much you pay if you are caught speeding in a work zone (school zones also apply). If you get caught speeding more than 30 mph over the posted speed limit in a construction, zone the fine is $555.50. Roadside contractors also fall under state regulations and specific guidelines must be followed for establishing a safe speed, lane closures, and warning signage.
Since the Sunshine State continues to grow as a popular year-round vacation destination, it should be expected that many Florida roadways will be under perpetual construction for expansion and repair. The answer for who's at fault for injuries sustained in a work zone accident is a complex liability issue. If you or a loved one were injured in a construction zone accident, it is prudent to seek the advice of legal counsel. As is the case with most injury claims, time is critical as important accident scene evidence can quickly disappear. Call 877-798-7700 to speak directly with a personal injury attorney at Schackow & Mercadante.