Roadway construction is a common sight: orange barrels and construction workers along the side of the road. People usually associate it with slow traffic and endless delays. However, too often people drive cars too quickly or carelessly past construction zones, with deadly consequences. A recent article looks at problems with work zone safety on West Virginia and Ohio roadways.
The West Virginia Department of Transportation reported 356 work zone fatalities in 2009, compared to 1,021 fatalities in Ohio that same year. The top three reasons given were that drivers made unsafe lane changes, they followed too closely, or they failed to control their vehicle. Many of these accidents happened on rural two-lane roadways in Appalachian Ohio and West Virginia, where drivers get distracted by the beautiful views. The West Virginia Department of Transportation has launched a media campaign to promote work site safety until construction season is over. The Ohio Department of Transportation has started requiring its construction workers to use high-intensity flashing lights and reflective tape on all equipment in the work zones.
West Virginia is fortunate to have many magnificent sites, especially the Appalachian Mountains. It is tempting to want to take a drive and just breathe it all in. However, as drivers, we have a great responsibility to those around us to pay attention to the road and its immediate surroundings. Because so many people don’t, roadside construction work is seen as highly risky employment. If you or a loved one work as a roadside construction worker and have suffered a serious injury in an accident, you need to find a West Virginia car accident attorney. An experienced attorney would gather evidence from investigators at the scene of the accident and interview witnesses. An attorney would help you file a negligence or wrongful death suit against the driver who caused the accident.
Your attorney would work to find the truth of the situation: whether the driver acted carelessly, or whether the driver’s behavior was understandable in light of the situation (for example, if a car veered in front of him and he pulled to the side to avoid hitting the car). Once your case goes before the jury, your attorney would make the best argument possible that you deserved compensation for your suffering. Even if it turns out that your behavior partially contributed to the accident — such as if you briefly went beyond the orange barrels — you can still get relief. West Virginia operates under the modified comparative negligence system, where the injured party can get relief if he or she is less than 50% at fault for the accident. If your fault is at 50% or above, however, you cannot recover. You or your loved one may also be able to obtain workers compensation from your employer since the injury occurred on the job.
We at the Wolfe Law Firm have helped countless people in car accidents get money awards for their medical expenses and lost wages. We welcome any attempt by the West Virginia Department of Transportation to put a stop to tragic roadside accidents. Those who fix our roads perform a vital service by making travel safer for all of us. We should return the favor by ensuring that roadside construction work sites are well protected.