Who is Liable in a Road Construction Car Accident
Road construction is a necessary – if inconvenient – part of living in New Jersey. Although construction companies have a legal responsibility to make sure their roadside construction zones are as safe as possible for drivers, many cut corners and do not adhere to safety laws. This can result in preventable road construction car accidents, with liability for damages being assigned to one or more parties.
When Is the Construction Company or Contractor Liable?
Liability is the legal term for a party’s financial responsibility for an accident. In New Jersey, a person or entity may be liable for a road construction car accident if that party was negligent or reckless and this caused the crash. Negligence refers to an act or omission that is careless and causes injury or harm to another person.
A construction company or contractor may be liable for a road construction accident if that party did something wrong that caused or substantially contributed to the crash, such as:
- Violating a safety rule or federal or state law
- Leaving construction equipment too close to the road
- Failing to put up warning signs for drivers
- Placing signs in undesignated or obscured areas
- Creating dangerous detours or traffic confusion
- Not using enough lights on construction vehicles at night
- Impeding drivers’ vision with excessive floodlights
It is important to note that New Jersey is a no-fault car accident state. This means the only time a driver can hold another party liable for a car accident – including a construction company or contractor – is if the driver suffered injuries that meet the state’s serious injury threshold. Otherwise, the driver will only be able to seek compensation from his or her own personal injury protection insurance, regardless of fault.
When Is the Driver Liable?
Most car accident cases in New Jersey are resolved with a first-party claim with the injured person’s own insurance provider. However, if the car accident caused broken bones, a permanent injury, scarring or disfigurement, loss of limb, loss of an unborn child, or death, victims have the right to file third-party claims against the driver or party at fault.
A driver could face liability for a construction zone car accident in New Jersey if he or she is guilty of negligence or recklessness in connection to the crash, such as:
- Speeding or driving recklessly
- Ignoring warning signs
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Driving distracted
- Texting and driving
- Driving under the influence
- Making an unsafe lane change
- Failing to wait for crossing pedestrians
- Losing control of the vehicle
- Failing to properly maintain the vehicle
In this scenario, those injured in the crash – such as passengers or construction workers – will have the right to hold the negligent driver liable for medical bills and property damage. The at-fault driver would only be able to recover financial compensation for medical bills and vehicle repairs through his or her own auto insurance policy.
Construction Company’s Duty of Care
In personal injury law, a duty of care refers to a legal or ethical obligation to act in a reasonable manner toward another person. In New Jersey, construction companies have specific duties of care that they owe to their workers, motorists and the public. These duties are meant to keep the public safe from disasters such as construction zone car accidents. They include:
- Maintaining a safe workplace
- Remedying property hazards promptly
- Keeping drivers and pedestrians reasonably safe
- Adhering to all applicable safety regulations and industry laws
- Hiring qualified construction workers and contractors
A construction company can be held responsible for breaching any of its duties of care to the public. A breach of duty is a failure to exercise reasonable care. If the construction company could have done something differently to prevent the accident but negligently failed to do so, it could be liable for the accident. It could also be vicariously liable for the negligence of its employees.
If you were recently injured in a construction zone car accident, consult with a car accident lawyer in New Jersey right away for help determining the correct defendant.