Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Work Zone Crashes and Your Personal Injury Case

Last week week was National Work Zone Awareness Week. According to its website,

“National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is an annual spring campaign held at the start of construction season [that] encourages safe driving through highway work zones. The key message is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones.”

Work zone crashes are a big problem on American roads. According to the National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse, there were 115,000 work zone crashes in 2019. 39,000 of those crashes involved injuries. In Missouri, criminal penalties and fines can be much higher in work zones, but how does breaking the rules of the road in a work zone affect a personal injury car crash case? Here are some of the main effects I see as a personal injury lawyer handling car crash cases in Missouri.

A work zone crash can be used to support the submission of punitive damages, especially if there is proper signage for the zone.

Generally, the money you get in a car crash case is meant to compensate you for your injuries and damages. Punitive damages, however, are used to punish the at fault driver and deter similar conduct. Breaking the rules of the road in properly signed construction zone shows a conscious disregard for safety. Not only would the driver be ignoring his or her duty to drive with the highest degree of care, but they will also be ignoring the safety signs. This is a sure sign that punitive damages are warranted.

A work zone crash can give rise to claims against the construction companies if their negligence contributed to the crash.

For example, if the work zone does not have proper signage directing traffic and someone drives into the wrong area and gets hurt, the construction company could be liable for the injuries and damages. Another example would be if a hole or drop-off near the road is not properly barricaded and someone drives into it and gets hurt, the company responsible for the barricading and signage may be liable for the injuries and damages.

Work zone crashes that injure workers also affect their claims because they would have both a workers’ compensation case with their employer and a car crash case against the driver. Employees are allowed to recover compensation through both the workers’ compensation case and personal injury case, but they must reimburse the work comp insurance carrier. They don’t have to reimburse dollar-for-dollar, which increases their overall recovery.

These are just a few ways a work zone crash differs from regular car crashes. Please be extra careful when driving through a work zone and pay complete attention to the road and signs. If you are injured in a car crash, we welcome you to call us for a free consultation at 816.867.8611.