Multiple injuries and one fatality resulted recently after a car crashed into a median on I-540 outside of Raleigh. The accident occurred when the driver, heading north on I-540, swerved to avoid hitting a car in front of him near the five-mile marker. He veered into the median instead, hitting four road workers and killing one.
Moises Felipe Cruz, 26, died when the car struck him after crashing into the cable barrier. The other three workers, Jesus Heriberto Cruz-Garcia, 21, Jan Carlos Morales, 26 and Geraldo Morales Felipe, 45, were taken to Mercy Hospital in Fort Smith and treated for injuries sustained in the accident. All of the workers were from Fort Smith.
Dangers of road construction work
Unfortunately, highway work zones remain a high risk not only for motorists but also for the road construction and maintenance workers who work there. Workers who are under 25 years of age show up in emergency rooms for treatment of work-related injuries at a much higher rate than other ages groups.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2011 to 2017, transportation events caused 76% of all fatal occupational injuries. In 60% of these events, the worker was struck by a vehicle while in the work zone. In 2018, 24% of all work-related fatalities involved motor vehicles.
Liability claims for road construction injuries or fatalities
While the North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Act requires most businesses employing three or more workers to obtain worker’s compensation insurance, state employees have a separate self-funded program, the State Worker’s Compensation Program. Even if workers who are independent contractors or employees of uninsured subcontractors are injured on the job, they may be eligible for worker’s compensation.
In North Carolina, worker’s compensation focuses on reimbursement mainly for the economic loss from the injury, not pain and suffering. Some expenses covered include:
- Medical treatment
- Temporary disability benefits
- Permanent disability benefits
When filing a claim, it is important to be aware that the injured worker may ask to settle for less. There is also a statute of limitations on pursuing a claim. Understanding what rights you have under the system can help you to negotiate the best settlement. Above all, injured construction workers and their families should know their legal options in the event of a work-related accident or fatality.