Articles Posted in Road Construction Defects

When a loved one is in an automobile accident that results in a serious injury or even death, it is not uncommon for a family to hire a law firm to represent their interests.  Medical bills, lost wages, the inability to pay for basic things in life because of a loss of income, pain, rehabilitation, loss of life or loss of the enjoyment of life – these are all things that no one is truly able to understand until they have to go through it.  If a serious injury or death is caused by the bad driving or bad decisions of another driver, that person needs to be held accountable for the harm they caused.

Unfortunately, most people driving the roads are not adequately insured to cover a serious injury or death claim.  In Alabama, the minimum insurance limits that are required by law for a driver is $25,000.  If a person with minimum limits seriously injures or kills your loved one, $25,000 is all that is available from the opposing driver’s insurance, which is a drop in the bucket for a serious injury or loss of a loved one.  Many people carry their own underinsured motorist coverage that can also pay, but it is extremely rare for these policies to provide adequate coverage for a serious injury or loss of life.

While most people assume the insurance of the opposing driver and your own insurance is the only possible source of recovery, there are always others avenues that need to be explored by a lawyer in a serious injury or fatal car accident.  One of the main areas our firm researches when helping a family with a serious injury or loss of life is defects in the vehicles themselves.  An issue with steering or a defective tire that blew out may have cause the other car to lose control.  There may have been a defective part on one of the cars that could have prevented the accident from happening in the first place.

Our firm has handled an increasing number of roadway danger cases over the last several years.  Most people look out for dangers from other drivers and take for granted that the roadway they are driving on will be built to standards and specifications and will not lead to a serious accident.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  This is especially true for roads that are under construction or newly repaved.  Here are a few examples of hidden roadway defects and when to look for them:

Low Shoulder / Road Edge Drop Off

The shoulder of the road is one of the most important safety features on a roadway and must be built properly to work.  Drivers do not realize how often their tires may drift of the road edge because, if the shoulder is built properly, they are able to easily steer back onto the roadway without really noticing it.  Tragedy can happen, though, when the shoulder is not built properly and leaves a large drop off between the road and the side of the road.  Standards require that the road edge drop off be three inches or less.  If it gets above this, the drop off can thrust your vehicle further off the road.  A drop off over 3 inches can also be difficult to get your tire to overcome to get back onto the road.  Road edge drop offs are responsible for many horrific accidents.  Road edge drop offs are a hazard during construction when new asphalt is being laid that raises the height of the roadway, on newly constructed roads if the shoulder is not properly pulled up when the work is done, and on old roads if not properly drained.

Unmarked Turns / Dangers

Proper signage is important for a safe roadway.  There are standards in place for when and where signs are to be installed.  The standards also require that signs meet certain visibility requirements and use certain symbols or words to make sure they are properly understood.  Dangers can occur when road hazards are not properly marked.  Turns over a certain degree of curvature needs signs so drivers will know they need to slow down.  Dangers over a hill that cannot be easily seen need a sign so drivers will know to slow down to take precaution.  Road construction requires numerous signs to make drivers aware of all the hazards of construction equipment and unfinished roadway conditions.  Problems arise when road contractors do not follow the plans and specifications for signage and therefore do not make drivers aware of such dangers.

Dips / Humps

Dips and humps in the roadway are another hazard that needs to be fixed or at the very least needs to have signage to warn of their existence.  A dip or a hump on the roadway where drivers are travelling at a high rate of speed can cause a driver to lose control or be thrown to the left or to the right without any warning.  The fact that many people are able to make it through a portion of the roadway without crashing does not mean that a danger isn’t there.  Many people have driven through a roadway condition where they’ve said to themselves, “Wow, that is a dangerous thing that really should be fixed before someone gets hurt.”  Dips and humps in the road can develop over time on old roadways.  They can also be present on newly repaved roads if the contractor does not take steps to correct an existing problem with the road. Continue reading

Few things can raise your blood pressure like having traffic go from a steady flow to a complete standstill due to road construction. It is only after the roadwork is completed that we can relax and enjoy the comforts of a newly paved road. Road construction work is vital to the continued safety of our roadways; yet, road construction defects can be the cause of serious and often deadly accidents. Drivers should be cautious when driving through construction zones and on newly repaved roads.

The dangers from road construction begin when the construction begins and continue for years after the road is completed if not done properly. Road construction companies are required to take safety measures while construction is ongoing. A flagman and a pilot car are familiar examples. When new paving has been done, road construction crews are also required to paint the lines before leaving the jobsite for the day so travelers at night can be protected. Unfortunately, this is not always done correctly. The travelling public relies on striping to ensure safe driving, especially on curves and areas with turn lanes.

Construction crews are also required to build up the shoulder of the roadway each day after completing paving. This is also not always done. It is not uncommon for a person’s tire to briefly leave the roadway and go onto the shoulder when travelling on a two lane highway. It happens so often we sometimes don’t even notice. However, when the shoulder has been cleared off for paving and new asphalt has been poured, a large drop off can occur between the roadway and the shoulder, making recovering from veering slightly off the road extremely difficult. Many single vehicle accidents have happened along two lane highways at night because a car has gotten slightly off the road and was unable to recover because the shoulder drop off was not built back up after construction.

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