Road work throughout Merced County has caused big traffic delays over the last few weeks. Closures on Highway 140 in both directions caused motorists to take alternate routes. Both directions of Highway 99 from the Fresno and Merced county line to Gurr Road were also affected. According to Caltrans, motorists were experiencing at least four other closures across Merced County. Delays were expected to add 20 minutes to the area that already has some of the nation’s longest commutes.
The 400 Foot Rule
Speeding is the most common cause of accidents in or around construction zones. As per CVC 22362, a driver is presumed to be speeding if he or she exceeds the posted construction zone speed limit within 400 feet of a construction zone. Speed limits in these zones can be as low as 25 mph. The presumption is rebuttable, but the motorist must prove that he or she was driving safely and reasonably. A person who is found guilty of speeding in a construction zone can face a minimum fine of more than $350 to more than $650.
Accidents and Negligence Per Se
Negligence per se raises another presumption that can be raised when somebody violates a statute or ordinance. A driver who was involved in an accident in a construction zone and pleads guilty or is found guilty of speeding in the zone can be found guilty of negligence per se. Such a finding can operate to satisfy the elements of common law negligence. Damages become the only issue. This presumption is also rebuttable.
Common Types of Construction Zone Accidents
Most traffic accidents in or around construction zones happen because of one or more of the following driver behaviors:
- Accelerating to pass other vehicles and abruptly changing lanes into the lane that those vehicles are in.
- Driving too fast for traffic or weather conditions.
- Failing to maintain control of a vehicle on uneven pavement.
- Losing control of a vehicle and crashing into fixed or moving objects, road construction equipment or pedestrian road construction workers.
A Recent Accident Example
In one accident that occurred immediately outside of a Merced construction zone at the peak of 2019’s August road projects, a man was arrested for driving under the influence and felony hit-and-run after northbound traffic ahead of him on Highway 99 slowed down for a construction zone. The man rear-ended the car in front of him which caused it to collide with the vehicle in front of it. The drivers of both of the vehicles ahead of the man were removed from the scene and hospitalized. This crash could be a perfect example of negligence per se.
More This an One Person or Entity Can Be Liable
A thorough investigation into a road construction accident must be conducted as soon as possible. Accident investigations into road construction accidents can get complicated quickly. Liability might be attributable to both private and public entities, and if you were a road construction worker who was injured in a construction zone accident, workers’ compensation benefits might not be your sole and exclusive remedy. Depending on the facts of your case, California law might allow you to pursue a personal injury lawsuit at the same time that you’re receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Although the general statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years, special and drastically shorter rules exist for purposes of protecting public entities. For example, you might be required to give a governmental entity notice of your intent to sue within six months of the date of your accident. Then, you might only have one year to sue it after it admits or denies liability.
Merced Personal Injury Attorney:
After any accident involving a serious injury, speak to an experienced Merced car accident lawyer such as Martin Gasparian for a free consultation and case evaluation. Mr. Gasparian takes a hands-on approach to every case. He believes that every client should work directly with their lawyer, get honest advice and the personalized attention to detail their case deserves.