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Driver error is the number one cause of car accidents in Florida, but many other hazards can also cause vehicle collisions. A roadside construction area or work zone can create dangerous road conditions that increase the risk of car accidents. Find out who is liable for these accidents in Florida based on the circumstances, as well as how to handle the claims process if you get injured in this type of crash.
Why Do Construction and Work Zone Accidents Happen?
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, there were 53,548 work-zone-related auto accidents in Florida from 2017 to 2021, resulting in 1,904 severe injuries and 376 deaths. Despite laws and roadway rules in place to increase the safety of construction zones, many roadside work sites have hazards that risk the lives of both drivers and workers. The most common causes of work zone accidents are:
- Dangerous construction sites. Work zones near the road must follow certain safety precautions, such as posting warning signs and designing suitable detours for drivers. If a work zone has distracting lights, confusing detours, uneven road surfaces or other hazards, this can create conditions that are unsafe for drivers who have to pass through.
- Careless workers. Construction workers who don’t follow the rules may leave tools, equipment or materials too close to the road, creating a risk for motorists. They may also make other mistakes that can increase the risk of accidents, such as standing too near the road, using construction equipment incorrectly, or negligently operating forklifts and other construction vehicles.
- Negligent and reckless drivers. Drivers can make many bad decisions behind the wheel that lead to construction zone accidents, such as speeding, driving distracted, drowsy driving, tailgating and ignoring warning signs. If a driver is 100 percent at fault for a crash, he or she is ineligible for compensation. However, if the construction company or a third party also contributed to the crash, the driver may still be eligible for partial recovery.
If a driver gets injured in a construction zone accident, he or she may be eligible for financial compensation through an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit in Tampa. The person or party that is responsible for paying for this type of crash depends on the circumstances.
Who Is Liable for Crashes in Construction or Work Zones in Florida?
Preventing a roadside construction accident is the shared responsibility of the construction company, construction workers and drivers passing through the work zone. Determining who is financially responsible for this type of crash in Florida requires answering two questions:
- Does Florida’s no-fault system apply? In Florida, the no-fault insurance system requires all drivers to seek benefits from their own insurance companies after auto accidents, regardless of fault. If the injuries sustained meet the state’s threshold (serious or permanent injuries), however, the driver may be able to file a claim against the person or party that is at fault for the accident instead.
- Who or what caused the accident? If a driver can file a third-party claim outside of the no-fault system in Florida, he or she may be able to seek benefits from the insurance provider of another driver, the construction company for negligence, the city or state for a dangerous roadway defect, or a combination of parties. In this case, the victim must prove that the defendant is at fault for the construction zone accident to collect benefits.
Construction companies are often found liable for construction or work zone accidents in Florida, as it is their responsibility to maintain safe premises. If a worker causes an accident, the construction company can be vicariously liable. However, it is also possible for other parties to be held accountable for these collisions, depending on the situation.
If you get injured in a construction or work zone car accident in Florida, contact an attorney for legal advice without delay. Our Tampa personal injury attorneys can guide you through the recovery process to make it as easy and rewarding as possible for you and your family.