Ditching Common Sense In Road Construction Leads To .25 Million Settlement

It’s dark, you’re driving through a construction zone on a road marked with orange cones. You notice, as you’re driving, the line of cones is coming to an end. As you pass the last cone you veer over to get into the other lane, that’s when it happened. Your car ends up in a deep ditch, you have serious injuries to your back and neck and your car’s front end is all smashed up.

Well this exact scenario did happen in Redlands, California and was recently settled for $2.25 million. According to the original complaint by Mark Digiacinto, filed in 2017 in San Bernardino Superior Court, he was driving east on Lugonia Avenue at 4:03 a.m. Dec. 29, 2015, in an area marked by construction cones. When the cones ended he moved right, then felt his car “drop off” into the 2-foot deep ditch before it overturned. In the complaint, he said he suffered serious neck and back injuries.

In the lawsuit the City, the developer Hillwood Construction Services of California LP and contractor Cone Zone were all named as defendants. The developer was building several large warehouse projects in the area and had control of the location and Cone Zone was in charge of traffic control design plans where the crash occurred.

In court documents, Cone Zone said it placed the cones before the ditch was dug and that it had “no duty to maintain the traffic control devices unless Hillwood called out Cone Zone to do so.”

During court arguments it was revealed that several other drivers had driven into the open excavation the week before Digiacinto’s crash. Although a city spokesman said in an email that he could not immediately tell if any of the other drivers had initiated a lawsuit.

This case was settled in August of 2019.

So why do I share this case with you? I share it to give you an insight and understanding into how personal injury claims work. In this case, the injured party sued multiple entities and the time frame from injury to settlement was almost 4 years.

Now you might be thinking that was California and this Indiana and road construction companies are more responsible here, right? No. Sadly, the same procedures that Cone Zone clearly stated using during testimony, “placed the cones before the ditch was dug” are used by many road crews throughout the nation.

So the cone placement company places those orange cones in areas they believe will be the areas where the construction company will be working. Sounds like a game of “guess where the cones are going today”. Sadly, way too many companies think this way. They focus on how fast they can do the job without thinking about the safety of those effected by their actions or inactions. And the lack of common sense that the construction company exhibited in digging the ditches past the area where the cones were placed boggles the mind. You would think the construction company would secure the ditch or place proper markings to prevent people from crashing into it. Yes, you would think.

So who’s responsible?

Highways and roadways must be designed to stringent specifications. Governments have an obligation to provide safely designed, built, and maintained roads, highways, and intersections. Safety requirements extend to signs, pavement paintings and marking, and properly maintained road surfaces.

Most of the time though, governments do not build and maintain roads, contractors do. Thus, in many situations engineers and architects may be liable for defective design in a road or bridge. Sometimes construction companies falsify quality tests for materials and use sub-standard materials, resulting in a dangerous defect.

The type of conditions that we look for in these type cases include, blocked or missing signs, improperly marked construction areas, missing or inadequate guardrails, bridge failures, and potholes and road surface bumps that can interfere with vehicle steering and stability, not just for cars, but for motorcycles, bicycles, buses and trucks.

The Law Offices of David W. Holub is a personal injury law firm located in Merrillville, Indiana, focused on providing efficient and effective client-centered representation. Our mission is to provide top quality legal representation, which includes an uncompromising pursuit of our client’s legal interests, while being accessible and attentive to our clients during times of personal challenge.

The firm concentrates in personal injury cases of all types, medical malpractice, and wrongful death litigation. We work tirelessly to serve each client aggressively and with empathy, to communicate regularly and clearly, and to obtain prompt and favorable results, while adhering to the highest standards of excellence and integrity.

If you or a loved one has been injured and you would like to determine if your case has merit pick up the phone and call (219)736-9700 to speak with our staff.


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