Construction Zone Crashes: Who is Liable?

Scott Blumenshine

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Earlier this year, two fatal car accidents occurred in the same month in the same construction zone on the Jane Addams (Illinois I-90) Tollway. Ironically, one of the tragic collisions happened during National Work Zone Awareness Week.

In the first accident, one person was killed, and six people were injured when their limousine driver hit a brick wall. Four of the injured people were initially in critical condition. Lawsuits have been filed against the limousine company and two of the construction companies. The allegations against the construction companies are that they were negligent in designing, erecting, and maintaining a construction zone that was confusing and dangerous.

In the second fatal accident, a driver was killed when he collided with a tow truck in the work zone. The tow truck driver was injured.

After the second fatal accident, the Illinois State Police issued a statement that they considered the work zone safe and warned drivers to be more careful. But, the police said, they would “keep a visible presence in the construction zone.”

The Tollway said it planned to take measures to improve safety, such as:

  1. Adding new radar speed signs on the tollway; and 
  2. Adding more message boards to inform drivers of upcoming delays or lane pattern changes. 

The Tollway Authority also said it was committed to protecting the highway during construction. It would “monitor conditions along I-90 and make additional adjustments as needed to ensure safety on the road.”

What is a Construction Zone Vehicle Accident?

A road construction zone or work zone car crash is when the “first harmful event” occurs in the area marked off as a work or construction zone or occurs at the approach to or exiting the area. Construction workers do not need to be present and working during the crash to be considered a construction zone crash.

There is no clear answer to who is liable for construction zone accidents. The same legal principles apply to any vehicle collision—those who breach a duty of care are liable for injuries caused by their negligence.

When the Construction Company May Be Liable

Construction companies have a duty to make a construction site safe, to not create dangers, and to warn of dangers that may exist. When they breach their duty, they are liable for the damages caused by their negligence. The primary or general contractors are vicariously liable for the negligence of their workers and subcontractors. Some examples of construction company negligence in roadway work zones are:

  • Design of construction zone route that creates a hazard by forcing motorists to make sudden or dangerous maneuvers.
  • Construction site routes that are not properly maintained can create hazards for drivers, forcing them to make sudden or dangerous maneuvers to avoid construction zone accidents.
  • Lack of warning signs or improperly placed warning signs.
  • Directions for detouring through the site are not fully visible.
  • Inaccurate warning signs.
  • Placement of signs, barricades, or devices in too close a proximity to moving lanes.
  • Operation of construction equipment that impairs the passage of moving vehicles.

When A Driver is Liable

There are times when the construction company and construction workers operate safely, but a driver’s actions cause the crash. For example:

  • A car hits a warning sign or equipment, causing a chain reaction, and another car or car runs into the first one.
  • A driver rear-ends another driver who properly slowed down or stopped.
  • A driver was distracted and did not see the warning signs, which caused an accident with another driver following the rules.

Contact an Experienced Road Construction Zone Accident Attorney

If you were injured or a loved one was killed in an accident that occurred in a construction zone, contact one of our construction zone accident attorneys at Blumenshine Law Group. We have years of experience helping our clients work through the difficult time of car accident injuries and receive the maximum compensation allowed under the law. We are compassionate and put all our energy into resolving your case as best as possible.

The law requires you to file a claim for damages within a certain period of time after the incident. If you let that time pass, you will forever lose your right to collect damages, no matter how seriously you were hurt.  Do not let that time pass. Email us today at [email protected] or call/text at (312) 766-1000 for a free consultation.

Construction Zone Accident FAQs

What is​​​​ considered a construction zone vehicle accident?

A construction zone accident is a traffic collision that occurs within or near a designated construction or maintenance area on a roadway. These accidents often result from navigational challenges posed by altered traffic patterns, such as lane shifts, closures, and temporary signage. They can involve vehicles, construction equipment, and sometimes pedestrians within the marked construction zone.

What is the most common type of collision that occurs in construction zones?

Rear-end accidents are the most common type of collision in construction zones. These incidents often occur due to sudden stops, reduced speed limits, and the unexpected presence of construction equipment and workers on the road. Drivers often find themselves unable to react in time to these changes, leading to collisions with the vehicle in front of them. Drivers should stay alert, reduce speed, and maintain a safe following distance to minimize the risk.

Who pays when the other driver has no insurance?

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