It would be understandable if our readers were to feel like construction zones on the roadways throughout North Carolina seem never-ending. Constant improvement work is seemingly always underway somewhere. However, as drivers might get annoyed at slow-downs in construction zones, it is essential to remember that workers are in those areas, and their safety is a priority. A few recent road construction accidents show how dangerous construction zones can be for construction workers.
1. According to a recent report, one accident occurred on September 28, north of Charlotte, on Interstate 77. The reports indicate that three vehicles were involved, including two construction trucks and a tractor-trailer. The reports show that the tractor-trailer driver was at fault for the crash, with indications that the driver did not see that a lane was closed due to construction.
2. In another incident around that time, this one south of Charlotte, a construction vehicle reportedly collided with another. There were few details about this second accident, although reports indicate that at least one person was hospitalized in the aftermath of the wreck.
3. After a car crashed into a median on I-540 outside of Raleigh, multiple injuries and one fatality resulted. The accident occurred when the driver, heading north on I-540, swerved to avoid hitting a car in front of him near the five-mile marker. He veered into the median instead, hitting four road workers and killing one. Moises Felipe Cruz, 26, died when the car struck him after crashing into the cable barrier. The other three workers, Jesus Heriberto Cruz-Garcia, 21, Jan Carlos Morales, 26, and Geraldo Morales Felipe, 45, were taken to Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith and treated for injuries sustained in the accident. All of the workers were from Fort Smith.
A lack of awareness near construction zones can lead to severe injuries or even fatalities. When North Carolina residents are injured in these incidents, they may need to review their legal options if they intend to take action. A personal injury lawsuit could be a path toward financial recovery, and those funds could be used to cover medical expenses and other costs that oftentimes pop up in the aftermath of a construction zone accident.
Unfortunately, highway work zones remain a high risk for motorists and the road construction and maintenance workers who work there. Workers under 25 years of age show up in emergency rooms to treat work-related injuries at a much higher rate than other age groups.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2011 to 2017, transportation events caused 76% of all fatal occupational injuries. In 60% of these events, the worker was struck by a vehicle while in the work zone. In 2018, 24% of all work-related fatalities involved motor vehicles.
While the North Carolina Worker's Compensation Act requires most businesses employing three or more workers to obtain worker's compensation insurance, state employees have a separate self-funded program, the State Worker's Compensation Program. Even if workers who are independent contractors or employees of uninsured subcontractors are injured on the job, they may be eligible for worker's compensation.
In North Carolina, worker's compensation focuses on reimbursement mainly for the economic loss from the injury, not pain and suffering. Some expenses covered include:
When filing a claim, it is essential to know that the injured worker may ask to settle for less. There is also a statute of limitations on pursuing a claim. Understanding your worker rights under the system can help you negotiate the best settlement. Above all, injured construction workers and their families should know their legal options in the event of a work-related accident or fatality.