In many ways, roads are essential to our economic development and provide important social benefits including access to medical care, employment, and education. As society returns to normal, the risk of being involved in a car accident continues to rise. In Florida, many counties and cities used the downtime to start road construction projects along busy intersections and major highways.
According to the National Safety Council, traffic-related deaths increased despite a decrease in road travel. Drivers who continued to travel during the pandemic found that less traffic on the road allowed for riskier behavior including reckless driving, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and failing to wear a seat belt.
Additionally, the roadways in construction zones are often littered with traffic cones, construction materials, and other debris, and the machinery involved in construction can be dangerous. When you combine poor driving behavior with new road construction projects, you can expect an increase in traffic-related accidents.
Major Projects on Florida’s Highways
In Florida, every region and county has its own road construction projects. In Northeast Florida, for instance, 4 counties are working or planning to work on I-75, and for multiple counties in Southeast Florida, major construction projects are focused on SR 9/I-95.
Statewide, some of the biggest highway projects include:
- The I-75 Master Plan
- The Gulf Coast Parkway PD&E Project
- I-4 Ultimate
- Various widening and interchange projects on the SR 9/I-95
- Bridge maintenance and reconstruction (including the St. Johns River Crossing Corridor, the Pensacola Bay Bridge, the SR 19 Bridge over Little Lake Harris, and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway Bridge Replacement)
Although these projects will ultimately improve the State of Florida, motorists are encouraged to exercise caution while traveling on construction sites.
What Constitutes Negligence in Road Construction?
Road construction negligence cases can take many forms. However, to collect damages, an injured person must prove that the construction company was, in fact, negligent and that the conduct caused or contributed to the injury occurring. This can take many forms such as improper lighting or signage, improper hardscape placement, not leaving enough room for drivers to get by, dangerous pavement conditions, and failing to clean up the site.
Under Federal Law, road construction companies are required to provide adequate notice of the construction and alterations of existing traffic patterns. If a motorist has to navigate a sudden turn without proper notice to reduce speed and is injured in an accident, the construction company could be responsible for the crash. Another example is if the pavement is uneven and not marked as such, this can present an unreasonable hazard, especially to motorcycle riders.
Once the construction is complete, the road must be returned to normal, drivable conditions; failure to do so can result in accident negligence claims.
Most Common Road Construction Accidents
- Auto Accidents due to Incorrect Speed Limits - this occurs when a posted speed limit may not be the safest speed for a roadway that is under construction.
- Car Accidents due to Sharp turns, intersecting lanes of travel, or barriers causing visibility issues for oncoming vehicles - If the layout of a road includes turns, intersections, and barriers that differ from the typical traffic pattern and make it difficult for a driver to see oncoming traffic, the risk of accidents dramatically increases.
- Head-on or Rear-end Collisions due to Improper maintenance of traffic - this occurs when signage or flagmen are insufficient or traffic systems malfunction or are not synchronized or timed properly to reflect conditions during construction.
- Pedestrian Accidents due to Lack of Visible Signage - this occurs when sidewalk access is restricted during construction or crosswalk signage is incorrectly placed.
Firm Wins Confidential Settlements in a Complex Wrongful Death, 17 Party Road Construction / Design Case
Tragedy struck a North Dakota family that traveled to Orlando, Florida to enjoy the area’s world-famous theme parks when a drunk driver rear-ended the family’s van on State Road 528. The collision caused the vehicle to leave the highway and crash into a massive concrete pole. Miraculously, all of the occupants of the vehicle walked away unharmed with the exception of the wife and mother of two children who was killed instantly, when her passenger door collided with the concrete pole.
Clark Fountain’s investigation revealed that a recent construction project had impermissibly allowed the installation of the large concrete pole in the right of way and safety clear zone. There were no guardrails or other safety devices installed to protect motorists from the concrete pole. After the case was turned down by multiple law firms, the family’s North Dakota and Minnesota counsel contacted firm partners Don Fountain and Ben J. Whitman because of the firm’s nationwide reputation and prior experience handling complex road design and defect cases.
The firm conducted site inspections, identified dozens of companies involved in the construction project, and retained professional engineer experts, resulting in a lawsuit naming 16 defendants. After months of negotiations, Whitman and Fountain were able to reach confidential settlements with all parties on behalf of their grieving clients.
Injured at a Road Construction Site?
If you or a loved one is involved in an accident or injured at a road construction site, you should protect yourself by contacting our team of injury experts. At Clark Fountain, our firm has represented victims injured or wrongfully killed as a result of negligent road design, road construction, and failing to maintain traffic. Call 561-899-2100 for a free consultation.