A worker was moving a barrel in a construction zone on Interstate 95 in Bangor recently when a speeding car zipped by – and nearly struck him. He was only saved by his quick reaction when he leaped behind a concrete barrier to avoid a direct hit, which would have almost certainly meant serious injury or death. Instead, the 44-year-old driver struck the barrel.
He was later charged with speeding (65 mph in a 45 mph construction zone) and failure to obey a traffic control device.
Our Bangor personal injury lawyers understand this incident prompted the Maine State Police to set up a speed trap in the area. Authorities say the results were revealing. In just two hours, the five troopers assigned to the detail handed out 25 tickets amounting to more than $10,000 in fines. The primary focus: driver speed and distraction in construction zones.
This issue is undoubtedly one that is both serious and widespread. According to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2003 and 2010, nearly 445 workers were killed after being struck by either a vehicle or mobile equipment while employed at roadway construction sites. Of those incidents, nearly 155 involved some type of a non-construction vehicle, like a tractor-trailer, bus, car or motorcycle.
In Maine, the state department of transportation reported 10 construction worker deaths occurring between 2009 and 2013. All of those individuals worked for private construction firms.
During that same time, there were nearly 2,600 wrecks in work zones, resulting in more than 300 serious injuries to workers.
Those involved in these incidents have several options with regard to injury claims. The first is a workers’ compensation claim, which can be filed anytime one suffers an injury arising out of or in the course of one’s work. Workers’ Compensation death benefits are also available in cases where the worker does not survive the accident.
This is known as an “exclusive remedy” because it is the only claim a worker can make against his or her employer. However, there is also the possibility that a worker can file a third-party claim in these incidents, against the driver, his or her employer and the insurance companies of these parties.
Still, state police are hoping to prevent these incidents altogether, if possible. They have planned a series of laser speed enforcement details in Bangor over the course of the next couple months through September, while the construction work is ongoing.
There could be several more planned after that, given the ongoing nature of the roadway projects. Although the paving along the highway is almost complete, construction on exit ramps, as well as along the Union Street bridge, is expected to continue through 2016.
The biggest issue, according to transportation workers, is that drivers fail to obey speed limits in construction zones. Reduction in speed limits is for the benefit of workers, but also drivers, who may not be able to anticipate sudden curves or other changes in road conditions due to the construction.
Even when workers and their employers adhere closely to state and federal safety guidelines while working along the road, they are still at grave risk of injury or even death when drivers fail to do their part, and slow down.
If you are the victim of a Bangor car accident or work injury, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Near miss in Bangor construction zone leads police to issue 25 tickets, $10,000 in fines in two hours, July 29, 2014, By Nok-Noi Ricker, Bangor Daily News
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