Who Is Liable In a Construction Zone Accident?

September 22, 2022 Posted In Work-related injury

Liability for construction zone accidents is determined on a case-by-case basis. It will depend on the type of the accident and its cause. 

A Driver Can Be Liable

Motor vehicles are involved in many construction zone accidents. There are times when a driver’s actions cause an accident—for example, driving distracted and crashing into equipment or a worker, or failing to slow down or stop in time when the vehicle in front of them properly slowed down or stopped. In those scenarios, the negligent driver is at-fault and is responsible for damages.  

When the Construction Company May Be Liable

There are several situations when a construction company can be liable for a work zone accident. For example, an injured pedestrian or driver passing by could hold a construction company liable for an accident caused by their failure to take safety precautions when setting up the worksite or if their equipment causes the accident. Companies and site managers have a duty to keep a work zone reasonably safe for employees and the public and to warn of potential hazards. 

Additionally, if a worker or subcontractor was responsible for the accident, the construction company can often be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees. Some examples of specific situations when a company may be responsible for a construction zone accident include:

  • Failing to place warning signs for motorists passing through. 
  • Failing to clearly show which lanes are open for use, confusing motorists. 
  • Failing to provide clear and legible detour directions for motorists so they may avoid the construction zone.
  • Inadequate use of lights on construction vehicles and equipment to warn drivers of their presence at night. 
  • Excessively or improperly lighting a work zone, impacting a motorist’s vision. 
  • Failing to clean up and maintain the construction zone creating dangerous roadway hazards. 

When a worker is injured in a construction zone accident, they can file a workers’ compensation claim with their employer regardless of fault. However, if a third party, such as a driver, is also liable, they can also file a construction accident lawsuit in San Bernardino for additional compensation. Workers’ compensation law protects employers from being sued for an injury,  except in limited circumstances—such as intentional harm, gross negligence, or failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance. 

Who Determines Liability in a Construction Zone Accident

The insurance company of each party involved in a construction zone accident will investigate to decide fault. A percentage of fault will be assigned to each party according to their degree of negligence or failure to exercise reasonable care. Essentially, whichever party was more careless will hold the majority of fault. An adjuster will review the following to figure out how or if each party contributed to the accident. 

Accident Scene Evidence

The adjuster will look at any available photos and video of the accident scene that shows where and how the accident occurred, any property damage, the scene as a whole, any unsafe construction zone conditions, road and weather conditions, injuries, etc. They will also review any available surveillance footage. 

The Police Report

A police report carries a lot of weight in an adjuster’s decision on fault. The law enforcement officer will give their opinion on how the accident occurred and who was responsible. They will also note whether there were any traffic violations. 

Eyewitness Statements

Statements from eyewitnesses can be critical as they are unbiased and objective accounts of how the accident happened.

Medical Records

Medical documentation can establish the extent of injuries and that they are related to the accident.

If you disagree with the insurance company’s determination of fault, you have the right to appeal or possibly file a personal injury lawsuit. Most injury claims settle before trial, but if you make it to court, a judge or jury will determine who is at fault after hearing each side’s argument and reviewing the evidence.

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