Regular road construction is necessary to provide safe and effective transportation for Louisiana's drivers, but driving through a construction zone can be hazardous. If you've been injured in a construction zone accident, you may be eligible for compensation as part of a personal injury claim.
Construction Zone Dangers
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), about 25% of construction zone accidents result in injuries to drivers or passengers that require medical attention. Less than 1% result in fatalities.
Nighttime crashes, crashes involving large trucks, and crashes occurring during the summer months are statistically the most likely to involve fatal injuries. Rear-end crashes also pose an increased risk. While only 16% of all fatal auto accidents involve rear-end collisions, 41% of fatal construction zone crashes are rear-end collisions.
Liability for Construction Zone Accidents
Because construction zones present so many safety hazards for both drivers and work crews, slowing down is essential. Louisiana’s speeding ticket fines are based on how fast you're going over the posted speed limit, but the fine automatically doubles for speeding in a construction zone.
If you were speeding when the accident occurred, you will be found at least partially responsible for the accident. However, there are a number of cases where the construction crew, other drivers, or the state agency responsible for maintaining the construction zone could share liability. For example:
- The construction zone wasn't properly marked.
- Construction debris was left in the road.
- Open holes caused you to lose control of your vehicle.
- The construction equipment malfunctioned and hit your vehicle.
- Construction workers were in the driving lanes without warning.
- You were rear ended by another driver who was distracted and didn't notice the construction zone or was tailgating and unable to stop in time.
If you're determined to be partially at fault for an accident, Louisiana's comparative fault statute still allows you to collect compensation for your injuries. However, your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. For example, if you were originally eligible to receive $100,000, you'd only receive $60,000 if you were determined to be 40% at fault for the accident. The remaining $40,000 would be deducted to represent your liability for your own injuries.
Although lack of seat belt use is associated with an increase in serious or fatal injuries, failing to wear a seat belt doesn't make you an at-fault driver for the purpose of a personal injury claim.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
If you're involved in a construction zone accident and believe that someone else may have contributed to the collision, there are several things you can do to help an attorney better prepare your case:
- Take pictures of the accident scene, including your injuries and vehicle damage.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Write down your account of the accident with as much detail as you can remember.
- Keep detailed records of your medical treatment, including copies of bills from any providers who treated your injuries.
- Do not talk to an insurance adjuster for any other party involved in the accident. You are required by law to cooperate with your own insurance company, but agreeing to an interview with the other party's insurance adjuster can backfire and make you seem at fault for your injuries. It's best to provide a basic written statement that's been reviewed by your attorney.
A personal injury claim can include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A wrongful death suit is a type of personal injury claim filed by the family of someone who suffered fatal injuries due to another person's negligence. These claims seek compensation for medical expenses up to the time of death, funeral and burial costs, loss of future earnings, pain and suffering in the deceased's final moments, and the loss of consortium experienced by the family members of the deceased.
To learn more about protecting your right to compensation following a construction zone accident, please call Neblett, Beard & Arsenault to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.