As work zone crashes climb near the 100,000 mark, it’s vital to take work zones and their related injuries seriously. If you’re on the road in a workzone, driver negligence, limited visibility, and unpredictable traffic patterns create the perfect storm for injury and even death. If you were injured while at work, the next steps that you take are vital to your well being and your ability to be appropriately compensated.
Here are the eight most important steps to take following a workzone accident.
1. Don’t Let Anyone Leave
If you’re reading this before you’ve been injured in a work zone, the most important first step to take is to keep anyone from leaving. You never know who could provide vital information to authorities from what they’ve witnessed.
The people involved in the accident need to be given space away from the work zone. All work must cease and everyone’s attention must focus on the people who have been injured.
The person who was driving the vehicle involved in the injury must be pulled aside. If they’re distressed, they’re going to risk causing another accident by driving while stressed out. If they’re drunk or on medication, they must be kept off the road until it’s safe for them to operate a motor vehicle.
If witnesses have pulled aside, ask them to hang around while you wait for the authorities to arrive. Police and investigators will ask for their information to ensure that there is testimony to back up anything that’s occurred.
While everyone is feeling the high intensity of the moment, you need someone to take on the role of keeping everyone calm. Even if you’re the one that’s been injured, your calmness will trickle down to everyone else.
2. Call 911
Someone needs to call authorities and first responders ASAP. In most accidents and injury situations, time is of the essence. If you’re not on top of things, you could risk further injury.
Don’t move anyone’s body until medical staff arrives. If someone is stuck inside of a vehicle, you need medical staff to supervise any movement.
Police arriving on the scene have the tools and training to look at an accident and assess fault. They’ll find out if the driver was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. By taking a look at the conditions of the work zone, they’ll set into motion the next steps that need to be taken for everyone’s safety.
Calling 911 while at a work zone leaves you with several stressful minutes to deal with everyone. Talk to anyone involved with the accident and check that they’re okay. While the answer seems obviously a no, this checking in also checks the consciousness of anyone involved and the severity of any head or bodily injuries.
Calling 911 will send firefighters, an ambulance, and police as a standard response team. Make sure to tell the operator how many people were involved with the accident so that the adequate amount of ambulances are sent.
Most ambulances only house one injured person at a time, two at most. If you can’t tell, give your best estimate.
3. Contact Your Supervisor
While waiting for first responders to arrive, contact the site supervisor for the work zone. More often than not, they’re trained to respond to situations like this. They’ll have training dictating what reports to take, next steps, and how to proceed with work from here.
The site supervisor is the closest thing to an authority you have until police arrive. Until then, take your supervisor’s lead. They’ll have the training necessary to handle the situation.
Your supervisor may act as a mediator if tensions are high after the accident or incident. It’s infuriating to be injured as a result of someone else’s negligence and it’s natural to seek out someone to blame for an injury. However, that’s not always the best response to keep everyone calm while waiting for responders.
If your supervisor seems overwhelmed, respond by remaining as calm as possible.
4. Take Photos
Photos need to be taken at the scene of the accident. If you photos, use them as evidence in a future court case, to help guide the judgment of insurance companies, and to protect your assets. No matter what stake you hold in this work zone injury, photographic evidence is a great way to provide context and proof.
Get photos of vehicles and equipment involved in the accident. Take shots that are wide and close up. The wider shots provide context to the area of the incident and inform later conversations about how it happened.
On a highway work zone, the area changes quickly and dramatically from the time of an incident to when it ends up resolved. Over time, the important elements that contributed to the incident get paved over, removed, or reorganized. Just a few weeks later, it often looks like a totally different location.
Document with as much detail as possible what the location looks like at the time of the crash. If the incident occurs at night, be sure that you take as much flash photography as possible.
5. Get Contact Info
Everyone on the scene involved with the incident should exchange contact information. Motorists, workers, and supervisors should exchange insurance information, names, and addresses.
If there were witnesses, get their contact information before they leave. Any motorists who saw the incident can come in handy when it comes time to get reimbursed for medical fees, pain, or suffering. If someone saw the severity of the crash, they can tell a judge or litigators about what happened to back you up.
There is typically an investigation following work zone accidents. The more information that people can offer, the faster the situation gets resolved. With more information, a more accurate judgment gets made and everyone who needs help with their medical bills receives the right compensation.
6. Go To Your Doctor
As soon as possible, anyone injured in a work zone must seek out help from doctors and specialist. If you have a primary care physician, get them to take a look and recommend treatment.
Save any scans, test results, or treatment you receive and document them. That documentation becomes useful when an investigation is run. If someone claims that an injury was a pre-existing condition, those claims get disputed with test results.
Time is of the essence when it comes to getting checked out by a doctor. Waiting for more than 48 hours throws the results of those tests into question.
Some lawyers and insurance agencies have successfully claimed that injuries caused by someone else were ineligible to be covered when tests were run later. Tests run a week down the road leave themselves open to scrutiny. If tests aren’t run right away, lawyers and insurance adjusters attempt to claim that the injuries were a result of another incident that happened in the interim.
7. Contact Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company as soon as you’re fit to. Try to get ahold of them within 24-48 hours if possible. Your medical insurance company will prepare some questions and require some documentation once you tell them you were injured.
They’ll get in touch with the insurance company that your employer uses. If you were struck by someone else, your insurance company will contact their insurance company as well. This is when they begin their investigation.
Insurance adjusters from the other parties’ insurance companies will attempt to ask you questions without a lawyer present. These adjusters will try to make you an offer that is beneficial to them, settling your case without getting lawyers involved. They’ll claim that this is in your best interest.
Before you start taking offers, talk with your own attorney and protect yourself.
8. Talk To An Attorney
Contact an attorney as soon as possible following your work zone injury. Most lawyers will offer you a free consultation if you’re the one injured. In personal injury cases or workplace injuries, many lawyers will work on contingency, only getting paid if you get paid.
Trying to represent yourself is the worst choice to make when you’re the victim of a work zone injury. Work zone injuries will cause other parties’ insurance companies and lawyers to circle, trying to give you as little money as possible. Navigating the court system alone leaves you vulnerable to losing out on time and money.
Workzone Injuries are Serious Business
Whether you’re an injured worker, a site supervisor, or someone responsible for a workzone accident, the steps that are taken after the accident are important. No matter your position, the safety and security of everyone involved in the moments after are preserved by good decisionmaking. Taking these injuries seriously is the only way to ensure that their resolution is as good as it can be.
If you worry about whiplash or head trauma following a workzone accident, check out our latest guide.