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Family killed in road construction accident

Construction sites can be dangerous places, and the danger is compounded when the projects involve road construction. Not only do careless drivers threaten the safety of road crews by driving too quickly through construction zones, but drivers can also be endangered by equipment and unstable materials in the area.

Demolition, renovation and construction projects are often an effort carefully coordinated between local governments and private companies. When miscommunication or negligence results in a serious or fatal accident, both the government and contracted companies may be held liable.

Earlier this week, Bay Area readers may have heard about a devastating accident that occurred in Washington state. A husband and wife and their 8-month-old son were killed when a concrete slab fell from the overpass and crushed their vehicle.

Contractors and subcontractors were working on a project to add a sidewalk and lights along a section of highway. That day, concrete slabs from the overpass were being cut and dismantled.

Normally, that type of work would prompt city officials to close the road below where the work was being performed. But a representative for the city said that the contractors and subcontractors were scheduled to be working at a different part of the site that day. The mayor reiterated that no demolition was scheduled (for that day) on the plan that had been filed with the city.

At best, this seems to be a serious case of miscommunication. At worst, it was a negligent and dangerous departure from agreed-upon protocol. In either case, an entire family lost their lives in a highly preventable tragedy.

Source: Claims Journal, “Work Plan May Have Been Ignored in Washington Bridge Fatal Accident,” April 20, 2015

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