The safety of our municipal workers is a paramount issue since they are responsible for our public infrastructure, transportation and safety that affects millions of people. Work zone accidents on public roads are a concern because workers are vulnerable to a variety of hazards including distracted and otherwise negligent motorists. To combat this problem the city of Chelmsford recently sent 19 city workers to a program called Work Zone Safety Training that was conducted at the Chelmsford Police Department. The 6-hour seminar was funded by the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association, the property and casualty provider for the municipality.
Work Zone Safety Program in Massachsuetts
The program was designed to assist city road construction and other workers to look out for and to prevent the hazards associated with their work. Causes of accidents that affect municipal workers include:
- Slip and falls
- Falling objects
- Cave-ins within trenches
- Electrical hazards
- Toxic substances
- Distracted and errant motorists
Most highway construction takes place on ramps, bridges, toll areas and approaches to these areas. Safety measures that workers can take include wearing protective clothing like hard hats and Personal Protective Equipment or high visibility vests. Police on construction detail are needed as well to help direct traffic or ensure that certain protective measures are taken.
Establishing safety zones with strategically placed traffic cones and signs so as to attract the notice of the most distracted drivers was discussed. It is vital that all motorists approaching construction zones are made aware well in advance of a potential hazard and to slow down, merge and comply.
A benefit for Chelmsford and any other municipality participating in these loss prevention programs is that they receive insurance premium credits. Of course, learning how to be safe and avoid accidents is the goal of most insurance programs so as to save them and their municipal clients money in the long run.
To minimize injuring municipal workers, motorists can take some tips on general driving safety as well as what to do when approaching a construction zone:
- Always concentrate on driving and avoid using or even looking at your cell phone or engaging in other distracting behavior
- Keep a safe distance from other vehicles
- Be conscious of brake lights ahead and traffic patterns
- Slow down and exercise caution in bad weather
- Adhere to the speed limits
- Merge ahead of the traffic blockage or closure as soon as you can
- Do not become frustrated with merging motorists
- Watch for flaggers and obey their signals
- Always be aware that traffic approaching tolls, closed or merging lanes will change
Compensation for Injured Workers
Injured municipal workers can collect benefits from worker compensation insurers. These include paying for medical expenses, mileage to and from medical appointments and treatment and for a percentage of their wage losses. I f permanent injury results, they can collect permanent disability benefits as well. The main benefit of workers’ compensation is that the worker need not prove negligence on the part of the employer or disprove the employee’s own comparative negligence so long as they did not engage in criminal behavior that led to the injury.
However, pain and suffering, typically the largest area of compensation awarded in most injury claims, is not available in a worker’s compensation case and an award for a permanent disability or lost limb may be woefully inadequate considering the nature and extent of the injury. However, if the worker was injured by a third party such as an intoxicated or negligent motorist, they have an additional resource to collect compensation, including damages for pain and suffering. This also applies to third party contractors who may be liable for constructing a faulty scaffold, providing substandard materials or defective wiring or otherwise being negligent in causing an injury.
Note, the worker’s compensation insurance company will have a lien on any third party judgment or settlement.
Damages for Negligence in a Construction Accident Claim
Other damages for injured municipal workers are available if a motorist is causally responsible for causing an accident at a construction zone. These may comprise of:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earnings
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Diminished quality of life
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Medical expenses are generally paid for by the workers’ compensation insurer but may be cut off at times. Also, only a percentage of the workers lost income is paid. The unpaid amounts may be taken up by a third party claim that can also compensate the injured victim for pain and suffering and a spousal claim for loss of consortium. Although the workers compensation insurer will place a lien on the third party claim, your personal injury attorney can negotiate with the insurer in many instances so that you can receive more compensation than you normally have received without legal representation.
Injury Attorney Neil Burns Provides Effective Representation and Results
If you or family member are a municipal worker were injured while on the job at a highway construction site by a negligent motorist or private contractor, you may have a claim for workers’ compensation and a separate claim for negligence by the third party. Personal injury lawyer Neil Burns has the experience and knowledge you will need to be properly advised of your rights and options and to ensure you receive the most compensation possible for your injury. Call for a free consultation.