Authorities in New Jersey recently reported on an incident involving a Port Authority worker who was struck by a hit-and-run driver, who was later located and arrested for DWI and leaving the scene of a crash.
A host of similar incidents occurred in the Carolinas last year, including:
- A South Carolina construction worker struck and killed on S.C. 170 in Greenville by an alleged drunk driver who fled the scene, but was later caught.
- A state Department of Transportation worker killed in Goldsboro on U.S. Highway 70 at a construction site, where a 28-year-old driver had driven into the median. The driver, who was impaired, also had two children in the vehicle with her. The worker was survived by his wife and twin 18-month-old daughters.
- A construction worker was struck on I-85 in Spartanburg County by a hit-and-run driver. He suffered critical injuries.
The Federal Highway Administration reports more than 20,000 workers are injured in road construction work zones each year. Of those, 12 percent are transportation incidents. The number of fatal motor vehicle accidents in work zones has decreased substantially since 2005 (there was a 46 percent decrease just between 2005 and 2010).
A big part of this has to do with education awareness campaigns. Also, companies are getting better at designing their road construction sites to improve worker safety and to keep fast-moving traffic away from workers.
But there are still far too many incidents on South Carolina roads and highways and beyond.
In the recent New Jersey incident, the drunk driver allegedly crashed his Jeep into a sweeper truck that was operating on the George Washington Bridge before fleeing the scene. The Port Authority Worker, who was inside the truck, suffered injuries to his neck and back and was transported to a local hospital.
The 34-year-old driver was reportedly stopped by a police officer a short distance away. His blood-alcohol level was reportedly twice the legal limit of 0.08. He was arrested on charges of DUI, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries, drug possession and assault.
In a case like this, an injured worker may have more than one avenue for recovery of damages. The first, obviously, is workers’ compensation benefits. This is assuming the worker was in fact an employee (as the news story insinuates) and not an independent contractor.
The second is to pursue third-party liability damages against the driver, and ultimately, the driver’s insurance company. It’s worth noting that if the compensation ultimately obtained reimburses the employee for medical expenses already paid by the employer, the employer (or the employer’s insurance company) will have subrogation rights to that money.
In a situation where the at-fault driver does not have insurance or fled the scene and wasn’t caught, the worker may be able to pursue uninsured motorist benefits. These would be benefits purchased by the employee through his or her own private auto insurance company. They would be applicable even if the worker wasn’t in a vehicle at the time the injurious auto accident occurred. However, it should be noted that the workers’ compensation insurance company could also have subrogation rights to this amount as well.
It’s important to discuss these scenarios with an experienced injury lawyer before deciding best how to proceed.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Worker hurt in hit-and-run with DWI driver on GWB, police say, Feb. 2, 2016, By Noah Cohen, NJ Advance Media
More Blog Entries:
NSC Report Talks Opioid Dangers for Injured Workers, Jan. 25, 2016, Greenville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog