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Car Accidents in Construction Zones In Texas

Houston car accident lawyers explain why work zone crashes happen in Texas

Serious car accidents frequently happen in road construction zones throughout the state. These areas are prone to accidents largely because they are hubs of intense activity where both drivers and construction workers are at heightened risk. Often, these accidents occur because someone—whether a driver or a construction worker—has made a critical error.

Navigating the legal aftermath of an accident in a construction zone can be complex, as determining fault may involve multiple parties, including drivers, construction companies, or even local government entities.

If you or a loved one has been injured in such an accident, it's crucial to understand your legal rights and options. At Smith & Hassler in Houston, TX, we are here to help. Our car accident lawyers can help you seek the compensation you deserve for your medical bills and other accident-related expenses.

How common are work zone car accidents in Texas?

Texas leads the nation in work zone car accidents. Studies based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) indicate that Texas has the highest number of injuries and fatalities in construction zone accidents in the country, both in absolute terms and per capita.

Specifically, about 26,000 people each year in Texas are involved in car accidents in construction zones. These accidents result in more than 800 injuries and nearly 200 fatalities annually.

Moreover, these incidents significantly affect construction workers as well. Nationwide, an average of 55 construction workers die each year due to being struck by vehicles in construction zones, with data sourced from the National Safety Council (NSC) and compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What are common causes of work zone car accidents?

Car wrecks in construction zones generally result from two main factors: errors made by drivers and unsafe conditions due to construction setups. Here are some specific ways these factors manifest:

  • Speeding: Drivers often ignore reduced speed limits in construction zones, leading to accidents due to insufficient time to react to road conditions or construction activities.
  • Aggressive Driving: This includes tailgating, unsafe lane changes, and illegal passing within work zones, all of which can lead to collisions.
  • Distracted Driving: Drivers who do not pay attention to the road—perhaps using mobile devices or other distractions—can crash into other vehicles, construction workers, or equipment.
  • Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol or drugs impair a driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle, increasing the risk of losing control and causing an accident in a work zone.
  • Fatigue: Especially common late at night, tired drivers may have slower reaction times and reduced attention, leading to accidents.
  • Poor Signage or Inadequate Warning: Sometimes, construction zones are not clearly marked, or changes in traffic patterns are not adequately signaled, confusing drivers and leading to accidents.
  • Improper Merging: When lanes reduce, some drivers may not merge safely or courteously, causing collisions.

How construction companies sometimes cause work zone car accidents

As mentioned above, the actions or inactions of construction companies can sometimes lead to accidents within work zones. Here are several ways in which construction companies may inadvertently contribute to these incidents:

  • Inadequate Signage: Again, improper or insufficient signage can confuse drivers, possibly sending them in the wrong direction or failing to adequately warn them of upcoming changes in road patterns.
  • Unmarked Obstacles: Construction crews might leave objects on the road without proper markings, creating hazardous conditions for unsuspecting drivers.
  • Improperly Parked Construction Vehicles: Vehicles that are illegally or inappropriately parked in or near active traffic lanes can obstruct the flow of traffic and reduce visibility, increasing the risk of collisions.
  • Narrow Lanes and Erratic Traffic Patterns: Construction zones often require temporary traffic patterns that may not follow normal road rules. Narrow lanes and poorly designed traffic flows can confuse drivers and lead to accidents.
  • Errors by Flaggers: Construction workers tasked with directing traffic may give incorrect signals or make mistakes, leading to confusion and potential accidents.

Common types of work zone car accidents

Work zones present unique hazards that can lead to specific types of car accidents. Here are some of the most common accidents that occur in these areas:

  • Rear-End Collisions: These are particularly frequent in work zones where unexpected stops or slow-moving traffic can catch drivers off guard—especially those who are distracted, speeding, intoxicated, or fatigued.
  • Head-On Collisions: Poor signage in a work zone can lead to driver confusion, which might result in head-on collisions. This type of accident can also occur when aggressive drivers attempt to pass other vehicles illegally in a work zone.
  • Pedestrian and Worker Collisions: Accidents involving pedestrians or construction workers are common in work zones, where workers are often present near active traffic lanes.
  • Side-Swipe Accidents: With narrow lanes and shifts in traffic patterns common in work zones, side-swipe accidents occur when vehicles clip each other while trying to navigate reduced space.
  • Collisions Due to Merging: As lanes reduce and merge points are established, collisions can occur from improper or aggressive merging, especially when drivers are not paying adequate attention or are unfamiliar with the merging process.
  • Equipment and Vehicle Interference: Sometimes, construction equipment or vehicles entering and exiting the work zone can lead to collisions with oncoming traffic, particularly if these movements are not properly signaled or if the drivers are not sufficiently cautious.

What injuries often occur due to car accidents in construction zones?

Car accidents in construction zones can lead to a wide range of severe injuries similar to those in other traffic collisions. Common injuries include:

  • Head Injuries: These often include concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which can range from mild to severe, affecting cognitive and motor functions.
  • Neck Injuries: Injuries such as whiplash, cervical fractures, or other serious conditions can result from the sudden movements during a crash.
  • Back Injuries: These can include herniated discs, spinal cord injuries that may result in varying degrees of paralysis, and other spinal injuries that can have long-term effects.
  • Broken Bones: Fractures can occur in any part of the body but are most common in the face, arms, and legs during car accidents.
  • Internal Injuries: These can include internal bleeding, ruptured organs, or severe bruising, often requiring immediate medical intervention.
  • Severe Lacerations and Cuts: Flying debris, broken glass, and metal can cause significant cuts or lacerations, which may lead to substantial blood loss, scarring, or infection.
  • Burns: Fires and explosions from vehicle fuel tanks during a crash can result in serious burn injuries, which might require long-term treatment.

Who’s responsible for paying for my work zone car accident?

In Texas, liability for car accidents generally follows the at-fault party, meaning it is the responsibility of the party deemed at fault to cover all accident-related expenses. Typically, this financial responsibility is handled by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

However, work zone accidents can be more complex than other types of collisions due to the potential involvement of multiple at-fault parties. For instance, if a construction company's actions contributed to the accident, it could also be held liable for the victim’s losses.

Consider a scenario where a construction worker improperly leaves building materials on the road, and you are subsequently hit from behind by a speeding driver. In such a case, you might have grounds to seek compensation from both the at-fault driver’s insurance company and the construction company.

Determining liability in work zone accidents can be complex, often requiring an investigation into the roles various parties played in creating the hazardous conditions that led to the accident. An experienced car accident attorney can help identify all potential sources of liability, navigate the claims process, and ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

How can a car accident attorney help after a work zone crash?

Work zone car accidents in Texas often involve complex legal challenges. As previously mentioned, these incidents may have multiple at-fault parties, which complicates the process of securing the financial compensation you are legally entitled to receive.

These cases are typically high-stakes because they often involve significant sums of money. Rather than offering the compensation you deserve, insurance companies and construction firms frequently use tactics to reduce or deny claims related to work zone accidents.

This is where the car accident lawyers at Smith & Hassler come into play. With years of experience handling complex legal cases in Houston and the surrounding area, our attorneys know what evidence to gather, which strategies to employ, and how to build a robust legal case to support your claim.

Get the Houston law firm that gets results. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation. We have four offices conveniently located throughout Texas, including three offices in Houston. Our lawyers also work on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay nothing unless we win your case. Reach out to our law firm today to learn more about how we can help you.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this article, “Car Accidents in Construction Zones In Texas.”

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