Road construction in New Mexico feels like an endless cycle of orange barrels and traffic backups. But these work zones are more than just a nuisance—they are also dangerous areas where over 550 drivers and passengers are killed every year across the country. While a great deal of attention is given to the safety of workers in road construction zones, occupants of vehicles passing through work zones are killed and injured far more often. If you were seriously hurt or a loved one was killed in a New Mexico road work zone, you will need experienced representation to get you the compensation you deserve.
Causes of Highway Construction Zone Crashes
Construction zones are dangerous because they filter a large number of cars and semi-trucks through a small area. Often, four highway lanes are reduced to a single lane. Not only must drivers be alert to the upcoming changes, but they must also maneuver through tight spaces that are designed to protect the workers in other lanes, not drivers passing through. A number of factors can cause a crash in a construction zone, including:
- Other drivers. The most common causes of work-zone crashes are other drivers who are speeding, driving aggressively, or not paying attention. If you are side-swiped or rear-ended in a work zone, the other driver is likely to blame because they were negligent in violating work-zone traffic laws. Crashes with other cars in construction zones are particularly dangerous because drivers are often trapped between concrete barriers, and there is no way to maneuver out of the situation.
- Semi-trucks. Massive tractor-trailers are forced through the same narrow traffic lanes as regular cars in construction zones. If a truck driver is fatigued or distracted, his rig could become a deadly obstacle in a tight space. A negligent truck driver could easily cause a work zone pile-up that leaves many drivers injured, and the driver and his employer should be held accountable.
- Worker actions. Drivers must be aware of workers in construction zones. After all, they are in a very vulnerable position, working right next to the highway. However, construction workers with a false sense of safety could step into traffic, drive equipment into the path of vehicles, fail to wear safety gear, or act in another careless way that puts them in danger. If you hit a worker through no fault of your own, you should not be held liable, and your damages should be paid by the negligent party if you are injured.
- Poorly marked zones. Construction zones must be clearly marked and have plenty of advanced warning. Orange merge signs, flashing lights, clear speed limits, cones and barrels that are properly placed, and workers or police officers directing traffic are essential for driver and worker safety. If you are injured in a zone that was not adequately marked, you could have a claim against the construction company, highway authority, or municipality in charge of the project.
It is all too easy to assume that you take construction zones at your own risk and that if you are injured in a crash, there is nothing you can do about it. However, a work zone is no different from any other patch of highway. If another party’s negligence led to your accident and injuries—or a loved one’s death—you can hold them accountable with the help of a New Mexico car accident attorney.
What You Need to Support a Construction Zone Accident Claim
Although speed limits are lower in a highway work zone, that doesn’t mean you can’t sustain serious injuries in a crash. If you were seriously injured in a construction zone through no fault of your own, you will need evidence of the other party’s negligence. Traffic camera footage, police dashcam video, witness statements, truck driver electronic log books, cell phone records, and more can be obtained by a skilled attorney. Contact Keller & Keller in Albuquerque as soon as you can following a work zone crash in New Mexico.