If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you know how many construction zones dot our highways, neighborhoods, parks and streets. Though construction is necessary if we want to maintain and improve our infrastructure, it's also a serious hazard for drivers and pedestrians.
Causes for a Construction Zone Accident in Texas
In construction zones, speed limits often vary, the road is uneven or unstable, there's debris and the confusion of flashing lights and orange cones, machinery is moving around close to traffic and construction workers are moving about.
Will all these moving parts, it's no wonder that wrecks are commonplace in construction zones. As an accident attorney, some of the most common causes for construction zone accidents that I've seen are:
- You aren't familiar with a newly changed road pattern and miss a turn or go the wrong way.
- The construction zone is poorly marked.
- The drive behind you is watching the construction and rear-ends you.
- You're startled by workers or machinery close to the road and wreck as a result.
- A careless worker moves equipment into the road in front of your car.
Who's At-Fault in Construction Zone Car Accidents?
After an accident, there's one very important question that must be answered: who's at fault? The at-fault party (and their insurance) will be responsible for paying for the damages and injuries caused in the wreck. But how do you figure out who caused a construction zone crash?
You Caused the Wreck
Odds are that you know if you were the one who caused the wreck. Maybe you were distracted or driving too fast, which caused you to rear-end another car or veer into the construction zone. If this is the case, you'll need to make a claim using your own car insurance.
Another Car Caused the Wreck
As previously mentioned, rear-end accidents are common in construction zones. One driver isn't paying attention to the road ahead - perhaps they're watching the workers instead - and end up hitting the back of another car. If you believe another driver caused the wreck, it's vital that you collect their insurance information and then contact that company to start a claim.
The Construction Company Caused the Wreck
I get the most calls by far from people who were driving through a construction zone, wrecked and now want the construction company to pay up. If any of these bullets apply to you, you might have a case against the construction company:
- The construction zone was poorly lit.
- You were hurt by a piece of heavy machinery (operated by a worker).
- The zone had poorly placed or missing warning signs.
- The construction area was confusing.
Laying out striping and signage to warn motorists of a construction zone – and to safely guide them through construction zones – is the responsibility of the general contractor employed to handle the construction work. The national standards for such striping, warnings and signage are defined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and the contractor responsible is expected to abide by these standards.
If you think the general manager failed to make a construction zone safe and it caused you to wreck, I urge you to consult with a personal injury attorney. A good lawyer will know the MUTCD guidelines, know how to work around something called "negligence per se," and construct your case in a way that will win you the compensation you deserve for your accident.
What Happens To You If You're Hurt in a Construction Zone Wreck?
When you are injured in a construction accident, what happens next? Who pays the medical bills? What do you do if you miss work? Different types of construction accidents play out in different ways, and the differences can be very important to your circumstances.
To answer the big question - who's going to pay for this? - you should first take a look at the section above to determine who YOU think is responsible for your wreck - you, another driver or the construction company and their workers. Whoever caused the accident has a duty to pay for the damages under Texas law, but it's not as easy as pointing fingers.
You'll need to build your case. You can start by gathering evidence - things like pictures of the zone, damages to your car and body, witness testimony, body shop repair estimates, video from surveillance cameras and the police report can all be used.
This is the point where a lot of people choose to turn their case over to an injury attorney. But how do you know if hiring a lawyer is right for you?
Should You Hire An Attorney to Represent You?
For many people, the cost of an attorney is a huge factor in this decision. However, you should know that some personal injury lawyers, including the ones at the Anderson Law Firm, don't charge you a dime until they win your case. If we don't win, you don't owe us anything. In other words, the upfront cost of hiring a lawyer should not factor into your choice.
So, how do you know if hiring a lawyer is right for you? I break it into two questions. One: could you prove with one hundred percent certainty (in front of a jury) that the construction zone workers caused your accident? Two: could you pay for your medical bills, damage to your car and other expenses if you fail?
If you answered no to these questions, it's time to consult with an attorney. An experienced lawyer will take your case over, using their connections and knowledge to construct a solid case on your behalf. They will know how to gather evidence, talk to witnesses, what to say (and not to say) to the insurance company, and so on.
As with any serious auto collision, time is of the essence when it comes to gathering evidence in support of your claim. Thorough evidence that documents the construction zone signage, striping, cones, layout, etc. is vital in order to successfully pursue a claim against the general contractor’s insurance policy. The sooner you start the claims process (and hire an attorney, if that's what you've decided), the better.