Despite signage telling motorists to be alert and slow down, each year more than 700 people die in work zone accidents nationwide. In Maryland, seven highway workers have lost their lives over the course of the last 20 months.
The latest of those tragedies happened recently in St. Michaels. A 40-year-old worker from Denton was directing traffic around a work zone when he was hit by a vehicle driven by an 84-year-old man. The worker was flown to a hospital in Baltimore, where sadly the man died. Police indicated that members of the man's family were notified.
Road construction work can certainly be hazardous, but accidents are preventable. All drivers have an obligation to heed construction zone signs and slow down in the presence of workers. In addition, employers are required by law to provide proper equipment and training to protect workers from unreasonable risk of injury.
In this particular case, the worker was employed by a private company out of Chestertown. Employers in Maryland must carry workers' compensation insurance, which provides death benefits to the families of deceased workers.
To receive death benefits through a workers' compensation claim, it is not necessary to prove that negligence on the part of the employer or any other party led to the fatal accident. The workers' compensation program is designed to provide relief to grieving families, regardless of who might have been at fault.
However, if a third party's negligence was a factor, then a civil claim of negligence may be the best way for the family of a deceased worker to receive compensation for final expenses, medical bills, lost wages and other damages resulting from the accident.
Source: WBOC.com, "Caroline County Highway Workers Dies After Being Hit by Vehicle in St. Michaels," Corrina Pysa, Aug. 22, 2014