Driving in an area where roads are either under construction or being repaired can be challenging, and can be more dangerous than driving in an area without construction. Often, drivers must follow signs for a detour or drive within a section marked by cones or other traffic management devices. Sometimes, the detour area might be unfamiliar.
If human construction flaggers are used, they may stand dangerously close to traffic. Other drivers may become frustrated or impatient with the slow pace often caused by construction activities, making them more prone to sudden or rash decisions. Construction at night often takes place with very bright lights, which can make visibility difficult. Dust and debris from sites can also cause visibility problems. Debris itself can be an obstacle and damage a vehicle if hit, potentially causing injuries to occupants of the car.
As a result of all these dangers, more car accidents may happen in a construction zone than they would have outside it. But who is responsible for a car accident that occurs during road construction?
RESPONSIBILITY VARIES ACCORDING TO THE CAUSE OF THE ACCIDENT
Responsibility for accidents in road construction areas is determined the same way that responsibility for all car accidents are determined. Responsibility depends on the cause of the accident.
If an accident is caused by driver error, it is the fault of that driver, regardless of the construction taking place. Drivers are responsible for following all applicable laws and for operating the car safely. This includes following all posted signs, warnings, and driving at a safe speed. That means drivers shouldn’t go too fast for slowed-down construction traffic, even if it means going below the speed limit.
If the accident was caused by the conditions of construction itself, it may be the fault of the construction company or its contractors. Leaving cones in the roadway, not following proper safety precautions for the elimination and placement of debris, or ignoring the safety of the construction workers may all leave companies liable to be accused of negligence in causing an accident. “Negligence” means that the company had a duty of care to keep conditions safe but failed to either keep them safe or make them safe once they had become dangerous within a reasonable period of time.
Some car accidents in a road construction zone can be caused by weather. Rain, for example, can cause debris and dust to become more dangerous to around and in, as can snow. Fog or heavy rain can cause visibility problems that might be more prone to cause accidents in unfamiliar detour zones or unusual construction-caused routes. However, it is always a driver’s responsibility to adapt their driving to the weather.
To avoid construction zone accidents, avoid construction areas if possible.
CAR ACCIDENTS UNDER MINNESOTA LAW
If you are in a car accident in a road construction area caused by another driver, the law provides, under the no-fault insurance rule, that compensation for medical bills and lost wages be paid by your insurance company.
Under certain conditions, it is possible to bring a legal case against a driver who caused an accident, if your medical expenses are greater than $4,000 or you have been on disability for 60 or more days, or have suffered permanent injury or permanent disfigurement stemming from the accident.
If you believe that a car accident was caused by the construction company or its contractors, it may be possible to bring a personal injury claim alleging negligence. It’s prudent to consult an attorney for a complimentary initial consultation. Attorneys and their investigators can investigate the circumstances and the companies involved.
If you’ve been in a car accident, you should talk to an experienced car accident attorney. Contact us today.
Posted by Rogosheske, Rogosheske & Atkins