Roadside Manners: Work Zones and Tragedy

May 5, 2015 | WC & Other Laws

Work Zones and Tragedy – Almost everyone who drives to work knows the major annoyance that follows. Imagine you are driving to work along a familiar route when suddenly construction appears, almost as if from the pavement, and suddenly, the commute that usually takes you twenty minutes takes thirty or more. Most working people who have to be at work by a certain time are hyper-aware, sometimes to the minute, of the exact amount of time a commute takes. Denver disability lawyers are no different. Unless you have the great good fortune of having been born a morning person, this familiar struggle is a real issue for working adults. So much so that often when we see those road work signs, if circumstances are right—i.e., running late to work, having a rough morning already, in desperate need of that latte—we are tempted to speed through the work area at our usual pace, positive the road workers are trained and prepared for this inevitable eventuality.

Work Zones and Tragedy

In Colorado in 2013, there were eleven crashes in work zones, which resulted in 14 deaths. In 2014, there were nine crashes, resulting in 10 deaths. Clearly, work zone signs generally encourage us to be more careful around people. After all, those who work on roads or in outdoor construction have very little protection from the elements, especially vehicles. Officially, 85 percent of deaths that occur around construction zones involve drivers and their passengers, leaving just 15 percent of those deaths to include the actual road workers. On a national level, more than 600 people are killed and almost 40,000 injured in work-zone crashes annually. Disability attorneys can help those who are injured and the families of those killed, but caution is the best measure we can take when rushing to work or home in work zones.

RELATED: Roadside Accident Had Worker Suffering for 5 Years and Counting

Workers who help construct roads are, of course, aware of the inherent risks of their job. And Denver disability lawyers would be the first to point out that almost any injury suffered in this situation would likely qualify for workers’ compensation, but bereaved families receive little consolation from this fact. Looking at the statistics, on average, about seven drivers and one highway worker are killed in any workweek. For many families, the dangers of road work and the importance of caution are not simply encouraged or understood to be important in a vague way, they are the cornerstone of visceral family tragedy.

Eladio Lopez, father of Frank Lopez, was fixing potholes on I25 by 84th Avenue on June 4th of 2004 when April Garcia crashed into Lopez and Paul Forster, his co-worker. The crash and complications from it killed both men. April Garcia’s blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit for driving when she crashed her car. When she was sentenced in 2005, road crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation came into the courtroom wearing their bright vests in a show of sympathy, as if to say, “This could be any of us. This affects all of us.” Garcia’s sentence was the maximum: 24 years for two counts of vehicular homicide.

Frank Lopez has kept his father’s memory alive by visiting the headquarters of the Colorado Department of Transportation to remember the 59 road workers, including his father, killed in work zones on state and interstate highways in Colorado. The Colorado Department of Transportation has begun to hold an annual Remembrance Day in honor of those workers who lost their lives, at the same time observing National Work Zone Awareness Week. The names of the fallen workers are highlighted every year, and people are reminded to stay aware of work zones and the people who risk their lives to make our morning, afternoon, or evening commute a little easier every day.

We’re here to help – Roadside Manners: Work Zones and Tragedy

Have you or a loved one suffered a workplace injury in Colorado? At Kaplan Morrell, we’re here to support you. Our expert team is just a call or text away at 970-356-9898. You can also easily reach out to a member of our Workers’ Compensation Claim team through our chat feature right here.

Rest assured, every consultation with us is not only free but also held in the strictest confidence. Let Kaplan Morrell guide you toward the peace of mind and benefits you deserve.

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