Horizontal Construction: Can the Highway Contractor Be Held Liable? Part 2
A full 85 percent of highway construction zone fatalities are motorists, not workers. A general contractor can be held liable for deaths, injuries, or property damages that occur on his or her site.
Liability is contingent on a variety of factors, so we have our Jacksonville construction attorneys here to continue this three-part article. In Part 1, we went over statistics regarding construction zone accidents and examined the meaning of “reasonable precautions.” Today we will cover limits on liability and instances in which a contractor is usually not liable. In Part 3, we will discuss instances a contractor could be held liable and how to protect yourself.
Instances a Contractor is Not Liable
The state of Florida provides limits on liability which outline when the Department of Transportation and its agents, consultants or contractors cannot be held at fault.
The first list item makes it clear that any motorist driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs (both illegal drugs and illegal use of legal drugs) presumes responsibility for his or her own loss of life, injuries, or vehicle damage. That said, if gross negligence on the part of the Department of Transportation or its agents, consultants, or contractors was part of the equation, the plaintiff could potentially overcome this presumption.
Another large part of the equation is whether a contractor was in compliance with contract documents relevant to the condition that was the proximate cause of the accident. If the contractor was in compliance, he or she is usually not liable. As with most legal issues, there are exceptions to this rule. One of these potential exceptions is when a latent condition arises from a mistake or omission on the part of the contractor and causes injury, death, or property damage.
It is also important to note that when a road is completely closed, contractors are generally not liable for any injury. Courts usually assign most of the blame for the injury, death or property damage on a driver who has chosen to drive on a closed road.
There are laws and limits regarding liability, but like most legal matters, these incidents are handled on a case by case basis.
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.