As far as brutal winters go, North Carolina tends to have it better than some of our northern neighbors. Still, we are no stranger to snow and ice, and this can create serious problems when motorists aren’t used to driving in these conditions and they fail to slow down.
Those who work on the roads in particular face hazards.
Case in point was a crash that recently injured a fellow motorist as well as a worker for the state department of transportation on a snowy highway exit ramp in Illinois.
According to news reports of the accident, it started with a one-vehicle crash in which the driver of a small passenger vehicle lost control on the ramp and slid into a ditch. The driver, 39, called for a tow truck to help him pull his car out.
The towing company arrived, as did the Illinois State Police and a worker from the Illinois Department of Transportation. The latter two were on site to help control traffic along the exit ramp while the tow truck was pulling the vehicle out from the ditch.
The job was almost finished. The DOT worker and the errant driver were standing on the shoulder waiting when suddenly, a second driver came speeding up the ramp. Officials say the 21-year-old driver was traveling too fast, and she lost control of her vehicle as she rounded a curve. As she swerved, she struck both the motorist standing outside of his vehicle, as well as the 52-year-old department of transportation worker.
Both men suffered serious injuries and had to be rushed to the hospital.
The woman was cited for failure to reduce speed and avoid a crash, and investigators say whether and speed were factors. One official said anytime there is snow or ice on the road, 9 out of 10 crashes are “clearly caused” by drivers going too fast for the conditions.
People need to slow down so they have ample time to brake so that if you do need to stop unexpectedly, you won’t find yourself sliding all over the road or into the vehicle – or worker – in front of you.
Workers in these situations have a few options.
First, they may pursue workers’ compensation coverage. This was an injury that, although caused by someone else, clearly occurred in the course and scope of the DOT worker’s employment. He was on the clock and would not have been at the site but for the fact that he was working.
There is also the strong possibility the worker may pursue damages from the second driver. This is known in workers’ compensation law as “third party liability.” It means even though the work injury is compensable – and you collect compensation from your employer – you also have the option of holding accountable unrelated third parties.
Workers should be mindful, though that in some cases, your workers’ compensation insurer may be able to stake a claim to part of those damages, in the event you win. That’s because you can’t obtain double recovery. So if your workers’ compensation coverage already covered your medical bills, you can’t collect on that again through the third party. But, the third-party could be made to pay that amount.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
IDOT worker injured while responding to crash, Feb. 11, 2016, www.ksdk.com
More Blog Entries:
Top Workers’ Compensation Issues in 2016, Feb. 7, 2016, Asheville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog