Every job has its risks, but some are more dangerous than others. In the ranks of risky professions, people who work on the road are towards the top. Road construction is the fifth most dangerous job in the US, and “other transportation workers” are the eighth-most at-risk. If you look at the statistics, “transportation incidents,” or being injured by a vehicle, is by far the most common cause of death for all of the top 20 most dangerous jobs.
Even outside of people who literally work on the road, people who work next to traffic are at risk as well. Landscape workers, utility workers, and anyone else who spends time near active roadways are in danger as well. Just this past August, two Visalia landscape workers were injured in an accident after a car veered off the road and hit them on the sidewalk. Understanding the risks of these jobs can help you know what to do if you are injured while on the job.
The Dangers Roadside Workers Face
The most dangerous part of working near a road comes from the cars driving past. Vehicles are involved in nearly a quarter of all non-illness-related deaths in the US. Placing people near traffic without adequate protection is an excellent way to put them in unnecessary danger. There’s more to this risk than first meets the eye, however.
First and foremost, roadside workers are at risk of being hit by a car. While there’s no “safe” speed for a car versus pedestrian accident, the faster a vehicle is going, the higher the chances that it leads to a severe injury or death. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian’s risk of severe injury increased to 50% in an accident at just 31 mph. At speeds of 58mph, the chance of pedestrian death after impact exceeds 90%.
What this means is that while high-speed accidents are incredibly dangerous, even low-speed accidents can lead to lifelong consequences. It’s not unusual for people to drive a few miles over the posted speed limit. Considered that the slowest standard speed limit in most areas is 25 miles an hour, almost any car and pedestrian accident has at least a 50% chance of causing a severe injury. For highway maintenance workers, the chances of death in an accident are incredibly high.
People working on or directly next to roads face other dangers, as well. Spending time near traffic exposes these workers to fumes from car exhaust constantly. This can damage the lungs over time. Road repair workers are some of the most exposed to these fumes nationwide. This can lead to everything from lightheadedness while on the job to severe and debilitating lung problems.
Who’s Liable for Roadside Worker Injuries?
Roadside workers deserve protection from the risks of their job. If you are injured in the line of work, it’s only natural to look for the party liable for your injuries. There are three potential options when it comes to roadside worker accident liability: the employer, the driver of the vehicle, or both.
When someone is injured on the job, they are covered under workers’ compensation in many cases. In California, workers file their claim with their employer, who is then obligated to have its workers’ compensation insurance pay for all medical care for the injury. The state guarantees several things under workers’ compensation, including:
- Medical care paid for by your employer
- Temporary disability benefits if you cannot work during recovery
- Permanent disability benefits if you don’t regain the ability to work
- Supplemental job displacement benefits to help you retrain to work in a new field if you don’t recover fully
- Death benefits should you die from a job-related injury.
To receive workers’ compensation, you must file a claim with your employer. They have 90 days to respond to your claim, or it is automatically approved. The company may either approve or deny a claim. However, as long as you received medical treatment for the injury and you reported the injury to your employer promptly, there’s only one cause for a denied worker’s comp claim: your injury not being connected to your job.
When it comes to roadside workers, it’s difficult to argue that an injury from a car accident on the job site was not connected to your job. This means that many roadside workers have a good chance of receiving workers’ compensation as long as they follow the reporting procedure correctly.
In some cases, workers may also be able to file a lawsuit against the person who injured them. Injuring a construction worker in a highway construction area is already a crime, but the worker may file a civil suit in addition to the criminal case. This allows the worker to file for damages that workers’ compensation doesn’t cover, such as pain and suffering damages.
Furthermore, in some cases where a workers’ compensation claim is denied, a personal injury lawsuit can also help you receive damages such as medical expenses. If a roadside worker is injured and their employer denies their claim or is not adequately insured, this is a significant financial option.
If a worker is suing the person who hit them, they can receive damages from the perpetrator’s car insurance policy. California requires that all drivers carry insurance for situations like this. All the worker will need to prove is that the driver responsible for the accident.
Getting hit by a vehicle is always a stressful, traumatic event. This is even more true when it leads to injury or the loss of income. Anyone working near the road deserves to know that they are protected if their job leads to an accident.
If you have been injured in a car accident while on the job, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified personal injury attorney. They can help you explore your options, understand the process of receiving compensation, and work to obtain the damages that are your due. You deserve to maintain your quality of life after an accident; legal representation can help you make that happen.