Highway Construction Accidents in Virginia
The summer is a busy time for construction on the highways of Hampton Roads. With all of the work that’s going on there are bound to be an even greater number of wrecks with fatalities and serious injuries.
The Interstate 64 construction seems to be taking forever. The horrible cloverleaf where Interstate 64 and 264 meet at the junction of Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach is scheduled to be worked on in the near future. That is bound to be the Tidewater equivalent of the big dig, meaning it’s going to be an endless project that will have lots of time and cost overruns.
The construction zone poses dangers to motorists as lanes close unexpectedly, shoulders are made unavailable, and the width of the usable highway gets narrowed. Those in greatest danger are not regular drivers and truckers but the road construction crews themselves. Many people don’t slow down as they should respecting the work zone speed limits and restrictions.
There has been some interesting new case law in Virginia about the available insurance coverage for road construction worker injuries. The ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court in a recent case expanded what even lawyers would have thought was the applicable insurance coverage for certain injuries.
The gist of the new case law talks about whether a given worker or person is doing something that involves the use of the vehicle. Obviously, if you’re in or on the car or work truck, then that car’s insurance comes into play. This case expanded to include other work trucks that were in the vicinity of the wreck, saying that the worker was also using those vehicles and created a broader test to figure out if the person was vehicle-oriented.
Examples of being vehicle-oriented would include when there is a vehicle that you just got out of at the road construction site, and you’re 10 paces away from it but you’re still in the process of getting out of that car.
The very process of alighting from the car can make that vehicle’s insurance coverage applicable to very severe injuries. Likewise, another vehicle in the vicinity of the wreck that was not the vehicle that the worker was getting out of was considered to be in use because it was being used to provide a safety cushion as a follow-along vehicle for the road workers. The court said that that other vehicle providing the safety coverage and protection was a car or truck in use and made its uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage also available to the worker who got hit essentially as a pedestrian in the road construction work area between these two vehicles.
As I was driving along at night recently on I-64 and saw some construction company out there like basic construction of Newport News I realized that almost every road work crew is working with several vehicles at a time. It’s rare that you just see one truck. Usually, there’s one pickup truck with guys throwing down cones and another who’s providing the follow-along safety protection and a third that is preparing to provide hydraulic lift or some other construction-related activity.
These convoys of vehicles may give rise to far more insurance coverage than plaintiff’s lawyers might have realized in the past. Certainly the average worker who gets hurt or his widow has no idea about all of these complicated insurance questions. All the worker knows is he was seriously hurt, and he needs to get the most money he can for his injury and economic losses as well as loss of quality of life. By studying these recent cases, an experienced personal injury attorney can maximize recovery for a client in these road construction worker injury cases.
We have represented injured highway workers in Virginia in the past. We have also represented drivers and passengers who are hurt in work zone accidents.
If you have been injured in a work zone in Virginia or North Carolina, call us for a free consultation at (757) 455-0077.