It’s been nearly five years since a Salt Lake City construction worker was nearly killed after being struck by a sport utility vehicle as he worked alongside the road in a designated work zone, managing traffic.
Our Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyers understand the teen behind the wheel was reportedly being shown a photograph by another teen in the passenger seat.
The construction worker doesn’t remember any of it, but he suffered 11 broken bones and severe brain injuries. Recovery has been slow, with a pelvis shattered in four places, three broken ribs and a broken heel, among other injuries. He’s had to undergo knee surgery and five shoulder operations. And his brain, while making miraculous strides, still can’t always grasp the correct words. Simple tasks like tying his shoes and buttoning his shirt have become impossible, as have playing baseball, basketball or riding ATVs with his friends, as he once loved to do.
Some days, he’s angry. Other days, he finds himself deeply depressed. But he’s dedicated to prevention and speaking to teenagers in high schools about the dangers of distracted driving, particularly in construction zones.
In 2011, there were nearly 75 roadside construction workers fatally injured by vehicles nationwide.
Georgia ranks fourth in the nation for pervasiveness of roadside construction fatalities and injuries. It accounts for 5 percent of all the country’s roadside construction fatalities and 4 percent of roadside construction injuries.
Between 2003 and 2007, some 640 workers were killed while working at roadside construction deaths, accounting for about 8 percent of all construction fatalities during that time frame. Almost half of these incidents involved a worker being struck by a vehicle or mobile equipment.
The Centers for Disease Control say that about 60 percent of those cases involve being struck by construction equipment.
You might think these cases would be fairly straightforward in terms of injury law. But in fact, there are many benefits to having an attorney who is familiar with work injuries in particular.
Although the case out of Utah shows how driver negligence is clearly a prime issue that injury lawyers will examine, another potential angle might be investigating whether the construction signs near the work zone were negligently-placed.
For example, sometimes there is construction equipment actually in the roadway. In other cases, the road is uneven, damaged or torn-up, and the construction signs don’t accurately reflect that or aren’t placed in the proper location.
In cases like these, the responsibility would fall on the company or contractor responsible for managing traffic control. Additionally, the Department of Transportation may also bear some of the liability, as it is the duty of the state DOT to inspect the construction site and sign placement. If the inspection wasn’t properly carried out, this could be grounds for liability.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roadside construction incidents were most likely to occur in April through October – accounting for nearly 65 percent of the total. Mostly, this has to do with the fact that this is when the bulk of the construction takes place.
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