Three highway workers were injured when a semi truck caused a piece of wood to strike them, according to a recent report. California Highway Patrol officers say that the driver of the truck may not have known that the vehicle hurled a sign into a group working on a Fix 50 project and may have failed to stop because he or she simply did not realize an accident had taken place.
The accident occurred when one worker was placing a beam near a guard rail. The wood went over the retaining wall, fell to the highway below and was struck by a passing truck. The semi, which was traveling east, propelled the board into a group of construction workers. One victim was airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center with head trauma while the other two were treated for minor injuries.
Caltrans has no plans to stop work on the project unless a safety inspector orders them to do so.
Construction Worker Highway Accident Statistics
According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were an average of 778 fatalities per year from 1994 to 1999 in construction zones around the nation. The years 2000 through 2006 averaged 1060 deaths per year and 2007 through 2012 averaged 669. California, Florida and Texas were the three states with the highest construction worker death tolls, each averaging at least 50 deaths per year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reports on worker deaths, states that there were 101 worker fatalities in construction zones in 2008. In 2009 there were 116 fatalities, with 122 in 2011 and 130 in 2012. The most worker deaths took place in Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, California, Georgia and Indiana.
At least 76 percent of the fatalities of workers in these zones were classified as being due to transportation incidents such as a worker being struck by a vehicle. About one out of six of these incidents involved a worker killed by a backing vehicle, usually driven by a fellow worker.
Construction workers, highway maintenance workers, truck drivers, construction equipment drivers and supervisors were most likely to be killed in a roadway accident. About 61 percent of worker fatalities were among workers in the private sector while 20 percent worked for the government. Roadway deaths account for about eight percent of all construction deaths in any given year.
Liability in Highway Worker Accidents
A case such as this one raises some interesting liability questions. For example, it is clear that the truck was the proximate cause of the flying wood that injured the workers. However, the truck driver was not necessarily negligent in the accident, while the employee who dropped the wood onto the highway may have been responsible. In a case such as this, what type of liability does each party have?
Questions may be left unanswered until a complete investigation is concluded. However, what is clear is that the injured workers may be able to collect damages by filing a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury claim, or both. Our personal injury attorneys can help determine liability for the accident and provide the necessary guidance on how to proceed with a claim.