Horizontal Construction: Can the Highway Contractor Be Held Liable? Part 1

Liability is a complex matter that can involve multiple parties, and the general contractor is certainly one of them.

In regard to highway construction, a contractor can be held liable for myriad reasons. Our Jacksonville construction lawyers are here with an in-depth explanation of these intricacies. This is Part 1 of a three-part article; today we will present the statistics regarding construction zone accidents and examine the meaning of “reasonable precautions.” In Part 2, we will cover instances in which the contractor is typically not liable. In Part 3, we will discuss instances in which the contractor could be liable, and how to protect yourself.

Highway Construction Zone Accidents

Approximately 85 percent of people killed in work zones are not workers but motorists.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, an average of 750 people per year were killed in work zone crashes from 1982 to 2014. There are also over 40,000 construction and maintenance zone crash injuries in an average year.

Of the highway construction accidents that caused injury or loss of life, some of the top causes were as follows:

  • Difficult construction zone intersections: This refers to when a driver did not have adequate time to navigate the zone (for example, to merge or change lanes) while driving at full highway speed.
  • Failure to post construction signs: This is when the construction site was improperly zoned or did not have enough signs to warn drivers.
  • Inadequately maintained highways: This includes flaws such as highway barriers, improper lighting, obstructed roads, pavement defects, potholes, and other flaws having to do with road maintenance.

Exercising “Reasonable Precautions”

Since it is so pivotal to a liability case’s outcome, our Jacksonville construction lawyers would like to cover what it means for a contractor to exercise “reasonable precautions.”

As with many legal matters, the criteria regarding reasonable precautions vary from state to state. Generally speaking, the precautionary measures are meant to ensure that construction interferes as little as possible with highway drivers.

Most courts include the following:

  • Barricades that isolate construction zones from highways
  • Limiting construction to times with the lowest driver levels
  • Proper lighting that ensures drivers can see the construction zone
  • Signage indicating construction and warning drivers of the oncoming hazards

The Florida Department of Transportation’s Standard Specifications for Road and Bridge Construction 2010 is a great resource. It is always best to seek legal counsel from a Jacksonville construction lawyer when interpreting this or any document.

If you would like to speak with a Jacksonville contractor lawyer, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

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