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Construction is a dangerous profession. No one wants to go through the experience of accidentally hitting or killing a construction worker when behind the wheel, but the reality is that such tragic stories are all too common in Atlanta and across the state of Georgia.
In 2018, 58 people were killed in Georgia work zones and there were a total of 27,235 crashes in construction zones statewide, resulting in 8,928 injuries. It’s a serious problem affecting Georgians of all walks of life. And unfortunately, fatality rates seem to be trending up. It’s possible the rise in distracted driving due to cell phones has contributed to these types of crashes.
At Scholle Law, our Gwinnett-based auto injury attorneys know the intricacies of highway work zone accidents and what Georgia law says crash victims can get in terms of financial recovery after a construction site wreck. We can help you explore your best options for financial recovery. We have the knowledge, skill and expertise to determine who is responsible for paying your damages.
Are you looking for an Atlanta car accident lawyer?
If you or a loved one were involved in a construction zone car crash, know that you’re not alone. Our firm has a reputation among insurance carriers and local companies as being able and willing to fight for our clients’ recovery. We aren’t afraid to go to trial if necessary. This reputation is an important factor in getting the best financial recovery possible in your case.
Our Atlanta and Duluth auto injury lawyers can stand by you and your family to help deal with the complicated legal issues surrounding injuries, suffering and property damage that often result from a serious construction site car accident. We have decades of experience handling cases involving highway work zone car crashes.
Contact us to speak with a lawyer about your accident.We’re available 24/7 and your first consultation is free.
Call 866-972-5287 or send us a message online
Georgia work zone safety laws
Here are a few important laws in Georgia that often come into play with construction site car accident cases:
All drivers in Georgia are required to move over 1 lane, if possible, when approaching certain stationary vehicles that are pulled over — including construction and highway maintenance workers, police, emergency vehicles, firefighters, paramedics, HERO and CHAMP operators, tow trucks and utility service vehicles with flashing lights. If you can’t move over safely, then you must slow down below the posted speed limit and be prepared to stop.
Georgia’s hands-free technology law makes it illegal for drivers to use their cellphones, smartphones or other electronic devices when operating a vehicle. Drivers may be pulled over and ticketed for disobeying this law, especially in a construction zone.
All drivers and front seat passengers in Georgia are required to wear their seatbelt at all times, including in a work zone. GDOT advises that backseat passengers buckle up as well, since any unrestrained vehicle occupant can be thrown from the car and killed in the event of a crash.
Highway work zone & construction site accident statistics
- From 1982 through 2017, 27,037 individuals (about 773 per year) lost their lives in work zone crashes.
- The peak year for the number of deaths in work zone crashes was in 2002, when 1,186 people died. This rate declined from 2008-2014, but recently increased again an average of 772 from 2015-2017.
- Over a 15-year span (2003-2017), Texas ranked as the state with the most worker deaths at road construction sites (218), followed by Florida (132), Pennsylvania (91), Illinois (83), California (76) and Tennessee (70).
- Pickup trucks and SUVs accounted for 151 worker deaths at road construction sites from 2011-2017, followed by machinery (131), automobiles (129), semi-trucks (124) and dump trucks (82).
- Private-sector construction, primarily heavy/civil engineering construction and specialty trade contractors, accounted for a majority (62 percent) of worker fatal injuries in work zones.
- Other types of workers who were most commonly killed in construction site car accidents included construction laborers, heavy and tractor trailer drivers, construction equipment operators, first-line supervisors of construction and extraction workers and highway maintenance workers.
- Fourteen percent of workers fatally injured in work zones were employed by state and local governments.
- 60 Georgia DOT employees have died in work zone related incidents since 1973.
- 60 percent of work zone crashes are associated with roadway departure and rear end collisions.
Common causes of construction site car accidents
Most drivers have encountered the congestion and confusion that frequently occurs around construction sites. Sometimes, there’s no warning posted and a driver can come upon a construction zone suddenly or without notice. Improperly marked lanes of travel can force cars into dangerous or hazardous situations.
Other common causes of these types of car accidents include:
- Construction debris that workers fail to remove
- Poor visibility that makes it difficult for drivers to see the road ahead or around them
- Failure to provide sufficient time for drivers to avoid construction hazards or slow down for a work zone
- Poorly designed or laid out construction zones
- Driver going too fast in work zone
Catastrophic injuries from work zone car accidents
Any one of these situations can create the conditions that result in an accident in which victims sustain catastrophic, or even fatal, injuries. Whether you or a passenger sustains injuries of any type in or near a construction site, it is important to get the help you need to recover. At Scholle Law, we can help you recover the cost of property damage to your vehicle and personal injury restitution. The families of fatally injured construction site car crash victims can file suit against those people or entities that are responsible in what is called a wrongful death action.
Even if a person survives a work zone accident, they can be seriously and permanently injured. When construction workers are struck by a fast-moving vehicle, the injuries can be especially catastrophic. Common examples of construction site car accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussions
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Soft-tissue injuries and organ damage
- Internal injuries
- Neck and back injuries (whiplash)
- Broken bones
- PTSD and mental injuries
Who’s liable for work zone car accidents?
Construction site car accidents can be caused by various factors and circumstances. Sometimes a driver falls asleep at the wheel, or Mother Nature lets loose with a downpour while you’re driving through a poorly laid out construction zone. These accidents can occur at any time of day or night, and can result in severe injuries to drivers, passengers and most frequently, the construction workers.
What makes construction site and work zone cases particularly complex is that multiple parties can be held liable for the injuries or damages that result. For instance, perhaps a negligent driver is responsible because they were speeding or distracted — or maybe the construction company, government agencies, contractors, engineers and sub contractors all played a role.
We can help secure compensation for you and your family by seeking the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
How dangerous construction zones can be: an example
There’s an infamous stretch of I-20 along the Georgia-Alabama border in Carroll County where a long-term construction project was blamed for more than 1,000 crashes. According to local news, since construction began along the 13-mile stretch in 2016, 240 people have been injured in crashes – 64 of them serious– and 13 people have died. About one-quarter of those crashes (224) involved tractor-trailers.
The resurfacing project was in a tight corridor, sometimes with shoulders only 2-feet wide. In addition, part of the zone traffic was split in a way that put westbound drivers traveling directly next to eastbound drivers.
A Carroll County Sheriff told reporters that most of the crashes involved “mainly people on their phones, not paying attention once something happened, or traffic slowed down, coming in, they slide up under a tractor trailer.”
While that construction project has been wrapped up, it put an untold number of drivers at risk for more than 3 years, and various ongoing construction projects just like it can be found in Atlanta and across the state.
How to prevent construction site car accidents
Georgia drivers must deal with the hazards of road construction projects nearly year-round. Construction site car accidents can occur on a country road or on a major interstate highway. They can occur during the commute hours or on a weekend drive. Staying alert while approaching a construction zone is important, as is paying attention while traversing the zone.
Car crashes in construction zones are such a big problem that officials created a National Work Zone Awareness Week (#NWZAW #DriveLikeYouWorkHere #Orange4Safety), which takes place every year in April to remind drivers to practice safe driving when traveling through work zones.
In addition, the Georgia Department of Transportation recommends the following 10 tips for driving through work zones at all times of the year:
- Drive like you work here. Obey the rules of work zones: (1) Pay attention. (2) Slow down. (3) Watch for workers.
- Expect the unexpected. Things may change quickly. Normal speed limits may be reduced, traffic lanes may be closed, narrowed or shifted, and people may work on or near the road.
- Don’t speed. Obey the posted speed limit, even when workers are not present. In Georgia in 2018, there were 31 fatal speed-related work zone crashes.
- Don’t tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you and the construction workers and their equipment.
- Obey road crew flaggers and pay attention to signs. Failure to obey speed limit signs or a flagger’s traffic control directions can result in hefty fines and/or imprisonment.
- Stay alert and minimize distractions. Give your full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cellphones and other electronic devices while approaching and driving in a work zone.
- Keep up with the traffic flow. Do not slow down to gawk at road work.
- Know before you go. Expect delays, leave early and schedule enough time to drive safely. For 24/7 real-time traffic information, call 511 or visit www.511ga.org before you get into the car. Follow Georgia DOT on Twitter for additional updates.
- Be patient and stay calm. Work zone crews are working to improve the road and make your future drive better.
- Wear your seatbelt. It is your best defense in a crash. Make sure your passengers are also buckled up.
Contact Atlanta’s top-rated car accident lawyers
Road work happens in Georgia year-round and isn’t going away anytime soon. Serious car accidents can and will result from drivers speeding or losing concentration while traversing these construction zones, or from poorly designed work zones. If such a crash happens to you, make sure you have the help you need to secure fair and just compensation for your injuries and damages.
For over 20 years, attorney Charles Scholle has helped injured victims and their families manage the difficult recovery from accidents and injury. If you have a loved one who was hurt on a construction site or highway work zone, we are here to help.