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How Safe Are Road Construction Work Zones?

Road construction workers are hoping for better protections to make work zones safer. A recent op-ed article in the Minneapolis StarTribune highlights the dangers that contractors and road construction workers face every day. While Minnesota was once recognized as a leader in safety for road construction workers, the common use of technological devices in cars has increased distractions for motorists. Our face-paced lifestyle has increased the speed at which cars travel on the road, including in work zones. While many factors may be at play in creating hazards for workers, moving vehicles on the highway are a constant threat to road-worker safety.

Work-Zone Accident Stats Are Alarming

Nearly half - 45 percent - of all construction companies that perform work on Minnesota roads experienced a construction zone related accident in 2017. That statistic alone is alarming. The national average sits somewhere around 25 percent. Research shows that nationwide, 11 percent of all work zone related accidents are fatal for workers. Many accidents result in life-altering, catastrophic injuries for construction workers. The vast majority of Minnesota contractors say that work-zone safety has declined significantly in the past decade.

Men and women who build and repair the infrastructure that our society needs to remain mobile provide a vital service to the community. When accidents disrupt the work day, the real long-term affect can become very personal for workers and their families. The costs of medical care, rehabilitation - and loss - can devastate entire families.

Many work zone accidents involve third-parties for the purposes of workers' compensation claims. The workers' comp system governs eligibility for benefits between workers and their employers. When a third party, a passing motorist for example, is negligent in causing the accident, injury victims and their families may be able to pursue a third-party personal injury claim to obtain compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering or other potential damages. While workers' compensation provides important benefits, a third-party claim may provide vital resources that workers' compensation does not cover.

Third-party claims alongside a workers' compensation claim can involve complicated insurance issues, it is important to work with a law firm that has a strong command of workers' compensation, personal injury and insurance law (including subrogation, credit, offsets, and other issues that can arise in multiple claim cases).

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