A contract worker for Caltrans suffered critical injuries after officials say he was struck by a drunk driver who left the scene of the crash. According to a news report in The Press-Enterprise, the major injury crash occurred the night of January 14, 2013 in a construction zone off Highway 91 in Riverside. California Highway Patrol officials say the man, a contract worker for Orange County-based Sema Construction Company, was working on the Highway 91 carpool expansion. The worker was setting up cones at the off-ramp near 14th Street when he was hit by a car that sped away from the scene before firefighters arrived.
Officials say the driver never attempted to stop or hit the brakes. But he stopped a mile away near Central Avenue where he was arrested. The worker was hospitalized with severe injuries and remains hospitalized with life threatening injuries. Caltrans workers had trucks on the side of the freeway with flashing lights and arrowboards diverting other drivers to the detour.
Fatal Crashes Involving Caltrans Workers
Caltrans workers have been the victims of several crashes in recent years. On April 4, a 21-year-old Corona resident was killed along the 10 Freeway in Baldwin Park when a suspected drunk driver struck him. In July 2011, Barry Steele, another Caltrans worker died after a women drove her car down a closed entrance ramp on Highway 91 and struck him. Also, in 2011, two San Diego County Caltrans workers and one in Imperial County were killed highway crashes while on the job.
Laws and Liability Issues
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver in this case was operating under the influence of alcohol and left the scene of the crash without stopping to help the critically injured victim. Under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a), it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. It is also against the law to leave the scene of an injury or fatal accident.
In such cases, injured workers can seek workers’ compensation benefits from their employer. In addition, they may also be able to file a third-party claim against a negligent party other than employer such as a contractor or in this case, the at-fault motorist. Injured victims in such cases would be well advised to contact an experienced Riverside personal injury lawyer who will stay abreast of the official investigation and ensure that the injured victim’s rights are protected. Victims in such cases can seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities and pain and suffering.