Construction zones are a common sight in Tampa, FL. In fact, according to the Hillsborough County local government, there are 173 planned road resurfacing and restructuring projects that should be completed by the end of 2018. Moreover, there are approximately 31 pre-scheduled road and lane closures that should take place this year in our county. Although the work that is done on our roads each year is necessary, it does come with some unintended consequences that can and do lead to car crashes in our city.
For example, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles indicated that there were over four thousand car accidents involving a construction, maintenance, or utility zone in 2016. Moreover, there were over 300 accidents involving maintenance or construction zone equipment in the same year. These are not small collisions either. In fact, approximately 28 of the accidents referenced were fatal, and from a legal perspective, being involved in an accident involving a construction zone can completely change the dynamic of how the accident is approached by a personal injury attorney.
Construction Zone Accidents in Tampa, FL
You might be unaware of the fact that the vast majority of construction projects are not completed by government employees but rather, third party contractors that are hired by the government at all levels to complete specific projects. The City of Tampa is no different than any other government entity in this respect, and many of the contracts with the city are posted publicly so contractors can bid on them. At the state level, the Florida Department of Transportation awards contracts in a manner that is similar to the local governments below them.
So, when an accident is caused due to the negligence of a construction worker or due to an event that was caused by the construction work going on at the time of the accident, it is the company performing the work can be held responsible, which can actually be a silver lining in an unfortunate situation. The reason being, typically, it is much easier to seek damages from a company than a government entity like the state of Florida, because government entities are afforded “Sovereign Immunity” by the 11th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which has been interpreted to mean that the Federal and State government cannot be sued in a state or federal court by its own citizens unless it has waived its sovereign immunity.
Seeking Damages from a Construction Company
In contrast, construction companies can be held liable for the negligence of their workers, and from a recovery perspective, seeking damages from a construction company can hold some advantages in certain instances one of which is the state of Florida’s requirement that all contractors carry public liability and property damage insurance. At a minimum, the state of Florida requires contractors to carry public liability and property damage insurance with the following limits:
- General Contractors: $300,000 in bodily injury and 50,000 in property damage insurance
- Building Contractors: $300,000 in bodily injury and 50,000 in property damage insurance
- All Other Contractors: $100,000 in bodily injury and 25,000 in property damage insurance
The public liability and property damage insurance that each contractor must carry is generally higher than the average auto insurance policy. As such, you, as an injured driver, have access to a larger insurance policy to seek damages through.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the State or a Municipality
Whether or not you can sue the state or a local municipality for a car accident depends on the facts of your case. The state of Florida does waive its sovereign immunity rights with respect to negligence cases and certain other tort claims under F.S.§768.28(1). However, the state’s liability is limited by law to $200,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. Moreover, you cannot seek punitive damages against the state nor can you seek interest for the period prior to a judgement being issued against our state. These are just a few of the many rules that guide civil lawsuits against our government, and these cases require expertise in a very specific area of personal injury law and should only be pursued with the assistance of a personal injury attorney.
Car Accident Lawyers in Tampa, FL
1-800-INJURED is an attorney and medical referral service. We connect the victims of construction zone car accidents and other types of crashes with our network of seasoned car accident lawyers.
Accidents involving construction zones can be complex with a lot of working parts, which is why you should always hire a personal injury attorney to assist you with your claim. Drivers involved in an accident will often be left feeling overwhelmed or confused about what they should do after an accident occurs. Contact 1-800-INJURED today to discuss your claim with one our network car accident lawyers.