In theory, construction sites build. They are designed to help build towers to the sky, replaced damaged property with functional equivalents, and add curbside appeal to cities and towns in need of it. Alternatively, construction sites can do something incredibly practical by building a new Wawa. In New Jersey, construction is a common occurrence, with many of us passing by it on the highway without a second thought issued.
What makes this problematic, however, is when the construction site creates a hazardous zone which spreads destruction rather than construction. There are several ways construction projects can ruin your cars, trucks, or bicycles when passing through the area.
There is an elevated risk of debris falling within a construction site. A crane lugging heavy material around might drop something. A brick or windowpane might be dislodging and tumble to the earth. If a vehicle is parked near a construction site, there is always a chance you might walk outside to find an I-beam sticking through your windshield, stabbing through the seat and undercarriage of your car.
Accidents like this can be due to either environmental hazards – heavy winds, rain, etc. – or negligence on the construction crew’s part. Either way, no reasonable person can expect debris to fall on them.
Sink Holes and Ground Collapses
Construction, especially street and sidewalk construction, might destabilize the ground beneath you. When driving by a construction zone, cones should be placed to ward off areas that might become unstable should something bad happen. However, the damage can sometimes extend beyond the anticipated parameters, resulting in the ground beyond the cones collapsing. This is especially dangerous with bridges, where, if the ground breaks, you will plummet into the earth or water below.
No reasonable driver anticipates that the ground beneath them is unstable. If a construction crew breaks the ground from underneath you or creates an environment where an entire road is unsafe to drive, that is not your fault.
Machines can malfunction and go out of control at a construction site. This can include vehicles like cranes, but also wood-chippers or even handheld equipment. All of this can result in wild machines flying and slashing through the air. Cars might tumble into lanes of traffic. Wood-chippers and saws might create a dangerous environment for passing vehicles. In other words, mass hysteria.
Mechanical failure for construction equipment is a far more common problem than people might realize, which ultimately results in a lot of dangerous situations for all parties involved. It is crucial that individuals operating machinery operate said machinery with a sense of responsibility. Otherwise, things will go wrong, and damages can be incurred.
Less common yet still incredibly dangerous, explosions can occur on any construction site, especially if fuel or propane is present. While these explosions might not be as spectacular as something that might occur in a blockbuster film, they can create an incredibly unsafe environment for drivers passing through the area. While very clearly the concussive force of the explosion can cause problems, explosions can obstruct the road or disorient drivers. In the event this occurs, a driver might be unable to react to other stimulus on the road, such as another driver skidding out of the way and into another lane.
No reasonable driver expects something to explode near them. On top of that, the driver might be unable to react at time when something explodes or combusts near them. If an explosion either directly contributes or indirectly contributes to an accident, the construction crew can be responsible.
Nails, Glass, and Metal Splinters on the Road
One of the most common issues vehicles encounter when driving near construction sites, however, is that of nails, glass, and metal splinters being left on the road. The problem here is no doubt a relatable one: you drive over a nail, do not realize it until you arrive home, and the next morning you go outside to find that your car tires have deflated.
Sadly, unlike the other problems cited, it may be difficult to prove the construction crew you drove past is responsible for that particular nail. It can be argued that the nail you ran over could have been found anywhere. Nails and glass can be anywhere on the road for you to run over. It is difficult to hold a construction crew responsible for the damages to your tire in such an event.
Thankfully, however, the stakes are also far lower. If debris lands on the roof of your car, your windows can buckle outward, the metal can twist, and anyone inside the car might be put in jeopardy. If your tire deflates, you can either plug the hole or replace the tire. This process is relatively inexpensive and can sometimes be done within a day. However, it is also incredibly inconvenient if you require your car to go to work or do something vital for yourself.
Construction sites can be a danger zone for any passing vehicle. While anticipating the unsafe environment can partially mitigate potential damages, at the end of the day, your vehicle could be damaged. In the event a construction crew damages your property, you might be entitled to personal injury damages. That is where we come in. The attorneys at Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota LLP can help. Please call our offices to schedule a free consultation and hear your options.