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Construction Zone Accidents: Who Is at Fault?

Construction Zone Accidents: Who Is at Fault?

Highway work zones can be the sites of terrible motor vehicle accidents. On average, at least two people die every day in the U.S. in highway work zone accidents, authorities report. Far more are injured, and many of these accidents could have been prevented with some more care and attention to safety.

Here’s how, with a closer look at:

  1. Highway Work Zone Accident Statistics
  2. Who Can Be At Fault for Highway Work Zone Accidents
  3. How to Prove Fault for a Highway Work Zone Crash
  4. When to Contact a Highway Work Zone Accident Attorney

Highway Work Zone Accident Statistics

State and federal authorities track and report highway work zone accidents in an ongoing effort to make the roads safer. According to the latest data and  statistics:

  • Roughly 106,000 crashes occur each year in highway work zones. That works out to an average of 290 work zone accidents every day in the U.S.
  • On average, about 42,000 injuries result from highway work zone accidents every year.
  • About 1 in 3 deadly highway work zone accidents involves an 18-wheeler or another commercial vehicle.
  • Nearly 1 in every 5 deaths at a highway work zone involves a pedestrian. About 20% of these pedestrian deaths affect the workers at highway construction zones.
  • Nearly 23% of all highway work zone accidents involve rear-end collisions. Close to 1 in 3 of these crashes happen on interstate roads. Comparatively, rear-end collisions only account for about 7% of traffic collisions outside of highway work zones.
  • Distracted driving contributes to nearly 13% of the deaths that happen in highway work zones.
  • Since 2018, highway work zone accidents have declined by about 14%.
  • Over the past decade, Texas has ranked number one nationwide for the most deaths occurring in highway work zones. In fact, in 2021 alone, Texas had more highway work zone deaths than California and Florida combined (those states rank second and third for most highway work zone fatalities in the U.S.).

The statistics on highway work zone incidents highlight just how common accidents, injuries, and deaths are at these sites. The numbers do not, however, help victims understand their rights, who may be at fault, and how to establish liability when it’s time to file a claim. Instead, that can take some different knowledge and a deeper understanding of Texas laws.

Who Can Be At Fault for Highway Work Zone Accidents

Fault for highway work zone accidents in Texas is not always easy to determine right off the bat. In many cases, further investigations and an analysis of the available evidence can be crucial to figuring out:

  • Who or what caused the accident: Other drivers, equipment flaws, road conditions, and more could play a role in causing crashes in or near highway work zones.
  • Who may be liable in light of the causes: More than one party could be to blame, depending on how the highway work zone crash happened.

With that in mind, at-fault parties for a highway work zone accident could include one or more of the following:

  • Roadway travelers: Motorists, riders, and/or pedestrians on the road may fail to follow the laws and, in turn, cause wrecks. Around highway work zones, that’s usually more likely when roadway travelers aren’t paying attention, they’re inexperienced, or they’re impaired.
  • Those involved with highway work zones: Workers can be liable for oversights and safety failures that cause accidents and injuries, like traffic crashes near roadway construction sites. Similarly, the entities that employ these workers and are responsible for overall safety at these sites can be liable too. That may include entities like city, county, or state agencies, as well as private companies subcontracted to complete some part of the work.
  • Manufacturers: When defective or faulty equipment fails, the companies that have manufactured those parts can be liable for the accidents and losses their defective equipment contributes to. Keep in mind that this may refer to automotive equipment, as well as construction equipment used in highway work zones.
  • Motor carriers: If 18-wheelers are involved in highway work zone accidents, the trucking companies that own the big rigs and/or employ at-fault truckers can also be liable. This may happen when motor carriers have policies that end up putting unsafe drivers or trucks on the roads. It can also occur when trucking companies violate federal or state regulations (and those violations result in accidents).

These are not the only parties potentially at fault for highway work zones. Additionally, it’s crucial to know or remember that:

  • Fault is not all or nothing: Victims may share some level of fault. That does not necessarily negate their rights to compensation in Texas.
  • You can’t rely on other parties to get fault determinations correct: In fact, it’s usually better to second guess others’ claims about fault and do your own digging to make sure you aren’t wrongly blamed for a wreck.

How to Prove Fault for a Highway Work Zone Crash

Investigations and evidence can help you prove fault, and those items won’t be the same from accident to accident or case to case. That’s because investigations will generally follow the evidence, and the available evidence can be unique from one wreck to the next, depending on how an accident happens — and what occurs right after.

Still, some items that can be generally helpful in establishing fault for a highway work zone accident are:

  • Photos and videos of the accident scene, the wreckage, the debris, and the highway work zone area
  • Statements from any eyewitnesses to the accident
  • Accident police reports or incident reports
  • Debris and/or damage to the features at the site of the accident
  • Highway work zone records
  • Vehicle maintenance records

When an accident arises from more complex conditions or the evidence involved is more technical in nature, expert witnesses may also be helpful in establishing fault.

When to Contact a Highway Work Zone Accident Attorney

The sooner you contact a lawyer after a highway work zone accident, the better. That’s because an attorney can give you answers that help you protect your rights at every step moving forward. 

A lawyer can also start investigations right away, possibly locating more evidence, connecting with eyewitnesses before they forget what they saw, or even preserving evidence before it’s lost forever. That, paired with experienced counsel, can give you better footing as you move forward to recover.