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The Orange Barrels are Back


Spring means many things: warmer weather, opening day in baseball, grass growing and flowers blooming, and...road construction resuming. Yes, those orange barrels are back, and they and the construction zones they guard often cause motorists to get into accidents. In fact, in 2010 there were 87,606 accidents in work zones. Luckily, only .6% of those accidents involved fatalities; 30% involved injuries, and 69% resulted in property damage only.

What do these construction zone accidents have in common? According to 2008 Department of Transportation data, in many of the accidents motorists are not wearing their seat belts, are speeding, and have consumed alcohol. The majority of fatal construction zone crashes occur on urban interstates, and on roads with 55mph and above speed limits. The vehicle most often involved in fatal construction zone crashes? A car: 85% of deaths are drivers and passengers in cars, while 25% involve large trucks.


There are a few common mistakes made in construction zones that unfortunately are often associated with accidents. For example, federal and state regulations specify the types of signs that must be used, the locations where the signs should be placed, and the number of signs that should be used. Failure to comply with regulations pertaining to signs can result in a lack of sufficient warning to motorists about an upcoming construction zone, leading to accidents.

Another common construction zone mistake is requiring motorists to negotiate too sharp of a turn when going through the work zone. Just as with signs, there are also regulations which specify the sharpness of the turn that motorists can be required to make at construction zones. If those regulations are not complied with and motorists are forced to make too sharp a turn at a high rate of speed, then accidents happen.

We have all experienced the uneven pavement and narrow lanes when road construction shifts lanes. Navigating such stretches is tricky at best, and disastrous when the pavement is too uneven or the lanes too narrow. Under these conditions, there is no room for error; when there is error, there is an accident.


When negligence in construction zones such as described above results in accidents involving injuries, a personal injury lawsuit against the construction company and, depending on the circumstances, the government, may be brought. The reason is that the entity in charge of the construction zone has a duty to keep it safe, and a "safe" work zone is one which complies with all relevant federal and state regulations (e.g. pertaining to signs and sharp turns, etc.). It can also be argued that a "safe" construction zone requires more than mere compliance with laws, but affirmative steps to ensure adequate protection of motorists in particular circumstances. When that duty is breached--the construction zone is not kept safe--and an accident occurs which causes injury, then damages can be recovered.

The types of damages typically sought are compensation for medical expenses, property damages, lost wages/earning power, and pain and suffering.


If you or someone you know has been injured in a construction zone accident, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free consultation.

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Thomas Law Firm
Located at 945 East Paces Ferry Road, Resurgens Plaza, GA 30326.

Phone: (678) 264-8348.
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