Community growth can be seen in almost every area in South Florida. This growth means we need to expand our roads, update our bridges and install new traffic features. All of this involves construction as a near constant element of our commute. For motorcyclists, riding in construction zones can be especially hazardous.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there were approximately 68,000 collisions reported in work zones nationwide. A higher proportion of fatal work zone crashes occur on the interstates, followed by urban arterials. Motorcyclists in construction zones have to continuously scan for debris, milled road surfaces, steel plates, loose gravel, road sealants and other dangers that could result in an edge trap (a sudden cut or drop in the road that might catch the tire of the bike).
We’re seeing more of these instances as construction picks up and we have more people riding motorcycles than ever before. The Federal Highway Pavement Monitoring System reports there was a 90 percent uptick in motorcycle registrations between 1997 and 2007, and motorcycle crashes overall make up an increasing percent of roadway fatalities and serious injuries. Just recently, a motorcyclist critically hurt in a construction zone settled his lawsuit against the state DOT, its construction contractor and a dump truck driver for $18.5 million.
According to The Chronicle, the settlement is believed to be the largest of its kind against that state’s DOT.
The lawsuit was filed in June 2015, just one month after the motorcycle accident that nearly killed the plaintiff. The facts of the case were “hotly disputed,” but we do know the collision occurred around 5:20 a.m. one morning as the 46-year-old motorcyclist was passing through a construction zone. The complaint alleges plaintiff’s motorcycle crashed into a dump truck driven by an employee of the construction contractor as he allegedly made an illegal u-turn that blocked the ramp. Plaintiff asserted the driver should have used the gravel access road if he needed to turn around. Instead, he was permitted by his supervisors to make the u-turn on the ramp – even though it was dark and even though there was no flagger available to alert oncoming traffic.
As a result of the crash, plaintiff suffered brain damage, numerous broken bones and paralysis. He spent more than one year in the hospital and later in rehabilitation facilities. He still uses a motorized scooter to get around. His partner and legal guardian filed the lawsuit on his behalf. The matter was slated to go to trial in October, but after a series of focus groups determined a jury would likely hold the state at least partially responsible – and plaintiff was originally asking for $30 million – defendants agreed to a pre-trial settlement.
For motorcyclists, poor road conditions, negligent drivers and poorly-marked changes in the road could present serious hazards. That’s why road awareness is extremely important at all times, but especially so when riding through a work zone.
Our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys are dedicated to fighting for the rights of motorcyclists injured as a result of the negligent act or omission of another. Government agencies and construction companies owe a duty to maintain safe roadways and to quickly address foreseeable hazards.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
$18.5 Million Settlement Reached in Interstate 5 Motorcycle Crash Lawsuit, Aug. 26, 2016, By Natalie Johnson, The Chronicle
More Blog Entries:
Florida BUI Laws Come Under Scrutiny, Nov. 7, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Motorcycle Accident Lawyer