NOVEMBER 16, 2014:
Driving through a construction zone in the State of Florida can be a very confusing experience. This is especially true on highways or major state roadways. Under Florida law, construction companies are required to provide drivers with adequate notice of construction work approaching. Whether it be lane closures, milling, pavement resurfacing or some other dangerous work, notice to drivers of the hazard is essential to the ultimate prevention of serious car accidents.
Being a lawyer that helps those injured in such accidents, the single most important aspect of construction cases is what was present at the time of the accident. In other words, preservation of the accident scene is vital in determining liability on the part of the construction company. While it all depends upon the extent of the injury and ability of the prospective plaintiff, taking several photographs of the site following an accident is the single most beneficial way to preserve the scene.
For construction projects sanctioned or otherwise funded by the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Statute 337.195 provides immunity for the contractor in charge of the site. And for personal injury lawyers representing those injured in construction site car accidents, a key method for piercing the statutory immunity is by establishing that the construction company failed to provide warning for the known dangerous conditions existing within the site.
Construction companies are more than aware of this statutory immunity and certainly take measures to preserve this defense. Staging the site. Ultimately, staging the site consists of the construction company responding to the scene immediately following the accident to “stage” the site so it appears that all of the necessary safeguards and warnings were in place prior to the accident. This includes bringing roadway construction signs, drums, delineators, as well as a plethora of other devices necessary to establish the immunity under Florida Statute 337.195.
Staging the site is undoubtedly an unethical method of response by a construction company. And by the time a lawyer gets involved to represent the injured party, the condition of the site as it appeared at the time of the accident is long gone. So, in most cases it all comes down to photos taken following the accident that depict the scene. While it is certainly possible to pursue a construction accident case without scene photos, the challenge is significantly increased when no photos exist.