Keeping Summer Work Zones Safe in the Carolinas

The majority of construction work nationwide is initiated and completed during the summer months. This means that employers and workers are at a greater risk of injury, whether working on a new construction project or in repairing state and national highways. After a fatal accident in Charlotte, the North Carolina Department of Transportation initiated an investigation to determine whether a work site was safe.

Construction zones must be properly barricaded and marked to warn oncoming motorists and to prevent injury or fatalities to highway workers. In the event of a collision or accident victims should consult with an experienced investigation team to determine the cause of the accident and identify responsible individuals or entities. Our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced in representing victims of work zone accidents.

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Last week, a fatal accident occurred on Interstate 485 when a dump truck struck a concrete barrier. The construction project aims to widen I-485 in Charlotte. To keep workers safe, the agency has added temporary concrete barriers. There are several points along the I-485 construction route where the concrete barriers shift to allow workers access to the median. This also creates an off-ramp for construction vehicles. According to accident reports, the concrete barriers are set up with gaps to allow workers and vehicles to pass. Distracted motorists who are not paying attention can see those temporary gaps as an opening or a third lane on the highway.

According to accident witnesses and reports, a dump truck driven by a 54-year-old Rock Hill man crashed into a barrier just after a temporary off-ramp. The truck flipped over and burst into flames. The driver was killed in the accident. Accident reconstructionists are unclear whether the driver believed that the off-ramp was a new lane or whether he lost control of his truck before the collision.

Many witnesses questioned whether he lost control because there was a shoulder on the interstate that could have been used if a driver needed to pull over. The speed limit in the work zone was reduced to 55 miles per hour and there was a solid yellow line indicating to drivers not to cross over.

After an investigation the N.C. Department of Transportation has announced that the work zone is safe, properly demarcated, and that no additional signs or warnings are necessary. The North Carolina Highway Patrol is continuing to investigate the accident and to hold any liable parties accountable. According to a spokesperson for the N.C. DOT, the traffic control plan was implemented according to federal guidelines and approved for a work zone safety unit permit.

In this case, the concrete barriers and attenuators are the responsibility of the contractor. The DOT has no intention of addition additional signs, cones or warnings. Any worker injured in a similar accident can hold a contractor and other third-party liable for any injuries. A family can pursue workers’ compensation in the event of a fatal accident. Workers’ compensation claims involving automobile accidents and highway crashes can be complicated so it is important to involve an experienced advocate as soon as possible.


If you or someone you love was injured in a work zone accident, contact the Lee Law Offices at 1-800-887-1965 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your right to benefi

More Blog Entries:
New Legislation Aims to Bolster OSHA Role in Worker Safety, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, May 25, 2013

National Emphasis Program Working to Protect Workers in Nursing and Residential Care Facilities, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, June 17, 2012

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