Arizona’s Road Construction Projects Create Dangerous Driving Conditions

Road construction zones often present shifting traffic patterns and uneven surfaces for car and truck drivers to navigate. Often, there is little notice of these dangerous conditions. On an average day, 11 automobile accidents take place in Arizona road construction zones. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT), these accidents have accounted for over 80 deaths and more than 11,000 injuries in the past five years. Drivers and their passengers account for the vast majority of the people hurt in these accidents.

Car Accidents in Construction Zones

Construction zones are a common sight on Arizona roads these days. Many major construction projects, such as those currently underway on Interstates 10 and 17, Highway 93 and State Routes 92 and 179, are expected to extend to late 2009 or 2010. These projects cause general upheaval that can result in hazardous road conditions, including:

• Poorly marked or unmarked construction areas
• Improperly installed or missing guardrails
• Inadequate lighting
• Uneven road surfaces
• Potholes
• Gravel and debris on the road
• Sudden lane restrictions
• Unexpected traffic congestion
• Sudden speed limit changes

In combination with the disruption of normal traffic patterns, these kinds of conditions frequently turn road construction zones into the sites of serious auto accidents.

Studies conducted by the Arizona DOT report that the most common type of road construction zone crash is a rear-end collision. This type of crash accounts for approximately half of all accidents. Many collisions also involve fixed objects, such as barriers and stationary construction equipment.

Common injuries in car crashes include broken bones, spinal cord injuries and brain damage. Death can also occur, and fatal accidents are often the result of single vehicle crashes.

Legal Issues to Consider

Several important factors affect the legal claims of those injured in vehicle accidents in road construction zones. Carefully documenting the conditions that led to an accident is an important first step in preparing for a lawsuit. Arizona law (A.R.S. § 28-650) requires that proper warning signs and barricades be maintained for the duration of all road construction. This applies to both municipal workers and private contractors. Engaging an attorney to thoroughly analyze the accident report and interview eyewitnesses is essential to preparing for a lawsuit and improving your chances of recovering fair financial compensation.

It is also vital to identify the party responsible for the accident. If the Arizona Department of Transportation or other governmental entity controlled the road construction zone when the accident occurred, certain types of legal immunity may come into play. An attorney can determine whether the state or local government can be held liable for injuries or other damages caused by their employees or contractors. Other potentially responsible parties include private contractors, subcontractors, construction companies, engineers and surveyors that were involved with performing the construction work, maintaining the road construction zone and designing the highway or bridge. Government immunity does not shield these private parties.

Timing is a third important issue. An injured party must serve a notice of a claim involving government employees or entities within 180 days of the accident (A.R.S. § 12-821.01) and file a lawsuit within one year (A.R.S. § 12-821). Claims against other parties must be made within two years. Accident report analyses and interviews can be time-consuming, and delays, especially in the time period immediately following an accident, can be costly. In general, it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a road construction zone accident to ensure that your interests are protected.

Road construction zones often present shifting traffic patterns and uneven surfaces for car and truck drivers to navigate. Often, there is little notice of these dangerous conditions. On an average day, 11 automobile accidents take place in Arizona road construction zones. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT), these accidents have accounted for over 80 deaths and more than 11,000 injuries in the past five years. Drivers and their passengers account for the vast majority of the people hurt in these accidents.

Car Accidents in Construction Zones

Construction zones are a common sight on Arizona roads these days. Many major construction projects, such as those currently underway on Interstates 10 and 17, Highway 93 and State Routes 92 and 179, are expected to extend to late 2009 or 2010. These projects cause general upheaval that can result in hazardous road conditions, including:

• Poorly marked or unmarked construction areas
• Improperly installed or missing guardrails
• Inadequate lighting
• Uneven road surfaces
• Potholes
• Gravel and debris on the road
• Sudden lane restrictions
• Unexpected traffic congestion
• Sudden speed limit changes

In combination with the disruption of normal traffic patterns, these kinds of conditions frequently turn road construction zones into the sites of serious auto accidents.

Studies conducted by the Arizona DOT report that the most common type of road construction zone crash is a rear-end collision. This type of crash accounts for approximately half of all accidents. Many collisions also involve fixed objects, such as barriers and stationary construction equipment.

Common injuries in car crashes include broken bones, spinal cord injuries and brain damage. Death can also occur, and fatal accidents are often the result of single vehicle crashes.

Legal Issues to Consider

Several important factors affect the legal claims of those injured in vehicle accidents in road construction zones. Carefully documenting the conditions that led to an accident is an important first step in preparing for a lawsuit. Arizona law (A.R.S. § 28-650) requires that proper warning signs and barricades be maintained for the duration of all road construction. This applies to both municipal workers and private contractors. Engaging an attorney to thoroughly analyze the accident report and interview eyewitnesses is essential to preparing for a lawsuit and improving your chances of recovering fair financial compensation.

It is also vital to identify the party responsible for the accident. If the Arizona Department of Transportation or other governmental entity controlled the road construction zone when the accident occurred, certain types of legal immunity may come into play. An attorney can determine whether the state or local government can be held liable for injuries or other damages caused by their employees or contractors. Other potentially responsible parties include private contractors, subcontractors, construction companies, engineers and surveyors that were involved with performing the construction work, maintaining the road construction zone and designing the highway or bridge. Government immunity does not shield these private parties.

Timing is a third important issue. An injured party must serve a notice of a claim involving government employees or entities within 180 days of the accident (A.R.S. § 12-821.01) and file a lawsuit within one year (A.R.S. § 12-821). Claims against other parties must be made within two years. Accident report analyses and interviews can be time-consuming, and delays, especially in the time period immediately following an accident, can be costly. In general, it is best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a road construction zone accident to ensure that your interests are protected.

Not Quite Legal in All 50 States

Go browsing on the Web for construction contracts and you’ll see braggadocio about some boilerplate contract being “legal in all 50 states.”
 
Claims like this show up on Web sites run by savvy people with good credentials but who should know better. Every state has the right to set unique requirements for construction contracts. And nearly all have. It’s simply foolish to claim any construction contract is “legal in all 50 states.”
 
You can take this to the bank: There’s no home improvement contract that’s legal in all 50 states. I’ll go one step further: There’s no contract for residential construction that’s legal in all 50 states. You won’t even find a contract for commercial construction that’s legal in most states. That’s not the way it works.
 
Construction contract law varies from state to state the same way income tax law varies from state to state. Imagine the reaction if you tried to file a New York or Texas income tax return with the Montana Department of Revenue. You’d probably be breaking the law in two states.
 
It’s the same with construction contracts. Nearly all states require specific disclosures, set unique limits or void certain types of clauses in construction contracts. No two states are alike. And most states impose heavy penalties for doing construction work under a contract that doesn’t meet state code. Fines up to $1,000 are common, as is the threat of jail time.
 
Even if you aren’t concerned about fines and jail time, consider the impact if you get into a dispute before collecting final payment. The attorney for your client won’t be impressed with your “legal in all 50 states” contract. More likely, you’ll discover that the contract is either partially or totally unenforceable under state law. Game over! You lose. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit. You’re not going to collect another dime on that contract. If opposing counsel is charitable, you’ll escape discipline from the state board. Persist and you’ll get an invitation to do the perp walk at a state hearing.
 
When you see the claim, “legal in all 50 states,” I recommend thinking “probably not legal in any state.” The latter is far more likely than the former.
 
So how do you judge if some boilerplate contract is legal? If you’re paying the $10 to $150 that most vendors change for a download, you’ve got the right to know: Is it really legal in my state?
 
I can recommend a Web site. It’s free. Construction-Contract.net has a good selection of state-specific home improvement, residential and commercial construction contracts. Even better, the site lists laws in each state that set minimums for construction contracts. Before buying any boilerplate contract or contract package, compare what the law requires in your state with what the vendor is offering. If the vendor’s contract comes up short, save your money.

Construction Law Trends in the 21st Century

Over the course of the past 24 months, there has been an increasing emphasis on construction law and trends in construction law. Therefore, if an individual is involved in the construction business or in an affiliated industry, it is important to have a basic understanding of these construction law trends at this point in time in the 21st century. Through this article, you are provided a review of these trends.

One of the most significant trends associated with construction law in this day and age revolves around construction enterprises that are finding themselves in the position of having to deal with projects that are not being completed because of financial problems on the part of the developer. Indeed, at this point in time a record number of developments are being halted midstream due to financial problems facing the developers themselves.

In this regard, construction companies of different types – from contractors to all manner of subcontractors – are finding it necessary to cover issues relating to defaults and termination of construction projects prior to completion due to financial problems being experienced by developers.

Many developers actually are ending up in bankruptcy. Therefore, when it comes to construction law related issues, a prime concern of companies and individuals in the construction industry is being able to protect their interests in the confines of bankruptcy proceedings. Therefore, a good number of these types of construction related business enterprises are finding it imperative to engage legal representation that is well versed in the arena of bankruptcy defense and in related areas of the law.

Another significant trend in the arena of construction law at this juncture in the 21st century involves making sure the enterprises involved in the construction industry are as fully protected as possible when it comes to the contracts that they enter into with developers and other enterprises involved in the industry. Provisions in these contracts that provide adequate protection to these construction related enterprises in the event of one kind of default or another are becoming of particular concern.

Finally, when it comes to trends relating to construction law, contractors liens are becoming an even more important issue. In simple terms, these are liens that are placed on real estate when a contractor or subcontractor performs work relating to that property. These liens provide a contractor, subcontractor or other construction industry related entity at least some level of additional protection in the event that a particular project ends up on the skids for one reason or another. In theory, a contractor, subcontractor or other similar type of entity can foreclose on that lien.

Once again, as was noted previously, when it comes to legal issues and challenges facing the construction industry presently, an enterprise in this industry is well served engaging the services of an experienced attorney. In the end, the best course that a business enterprise in the construction industry can take when it comes to protecting and defending their legal interest is through the assistance of a qualified, experienced and reputable attorney.