Construction Zone Crashes: Who is Liable?

Construction zones and accidents, who is responsible?Earlier this year, two fatal car accidents occurred in the same month in the same construction zone on the Jane Addams (Illinois I-90) Tollway. Ironically, one of the tragic collisions happened during National Work Zone Awareness Week.

In the first accident, one person was killed and six people were injured when their limousine driver hit a brick wall. Four of the injured people were initially in critical condition. Lawsuits have been filed against the limousine company and two of the construction companies. The allegations against the construction companies are that they were negligent in designing, erecting and maintaining a construction zone that was confusing and dangerous.

In the second fatal accident, a driver was killed when he collided with a tow truck in the construction zone. The tow truck driver was injured.

After the second fatal accident, the Illinois State Police issued a statement  that that they considered the construction zone safe and warned drivers to be more careful. But, the police said, they would “keep a visible presence in the construction zone.”

The Tollway said it planned to take measures to improve safety such as: 1) adding new radar speed signs on the tollway; and 2) adding more message boards to inform drivers of upcoming delays or lane pattern changes. The Tollway Authority also said it was committed to keeping the highway safe during construction and would “monitor conditions along I-90 and make additional adjustment as needed to ensure safety on the road.”

What is Considered a Construction Zone Vehicle Accident?

A construction zone, or work zone, car crash is when the “first harmful event” occurs in the area marked off as a work/construction zone or occurs at the approach to or exit from the construction zone. Construction workers do not need to be present and working at the time of the crash for it to be considered a construction zone crash.

There is no one clear answer to the question of who is liable for a construction zone car crash. The same legal principles apply to any vehicle collision – those who breach a duty of care are liable for injuries due to their negligence.

When the Construction Company May Be Liable

Construction companies have a duty to make a construction site safe, to not create dangers and to warn of dangers that may exist. When they breach their duty, they are liable for the damages that are caused by their negligence. The companies are vicariously liable for the negligence of their workers and subcontractors. Some examples of construction company negligence in roadway work zones are:

  • Design of construction zone route that creates hazard by forcing motorists to make sudden or dangerous maneuvers.
  • Maintenance of construction site route that creates hazard by forcing motorists to make sudden or dangerous maneuvers.
  • Lack of warning signs or improperly placed warning signs.
  • Directions for detouring through the site not fully visible.
  • Inaccurate warning signs.
  • Placement of signs, barricades or devices in too close a proximity to moving lanes.
  • Operation of construction equipment that impairs passage of moving vehicles.

When A Driver is Liable

There are times when the construction company and construction workers operated safely, but the actions of a driver caused the crash. For example:

  • A car hits a warning sign or equipment, causing a chain reaction and another car or cars run into the first one.
  • A driver rear-ends another driver who properly slowed down or stopped.
  • A driver was distracted and did not see the warning signs. The distraction caused an accident with another driver who was following the rules.

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a car accident that occurred in a construction zone, contact one of our attorneys at Meyer & Blumenshine. We have years of experience helping our clients work through the difficult time of car accident injuries and to receive the maximum compensation allowed under the law. We are compassionate and put all of our energy into resolving your case in the best possible way.

The law requires you to file a claim for damages within a certain period of time after the incident. If you let that time pass, you will lose forever your right to collect damages no matter how seriously you were hurt.  Do not let that time pass. Contact us today for a free consultation.