An Oregon car accident near Amity on route 99W sent a highway worker to the hospital last week. According to The Oregonian, a ‘flagger’ employed by a private company was “taken to a Portland hospital with serious injuries” after being struck by a car in the early evening. The Oregon traffic accident occurred near milepost 47 on Route 99W and closed the road to traffic for what the newspaper describes as “an extended period of time.”
The paper reports that the driver remained on the scene and cooperated with police. It also, however, reports that investigators believe “alcohol or drugs may have been a factor” in the incident and that they are considering criminal charges against the driver.
On its surface this might seem like a fairly straightforward Oregon traffic accident case. The specifics, however, raise several interesting legal questions. We would normally suppose a highway worker injured on the job to be covered by workman’s comp, but the fact that the flagger was injured by a third party – the driver – changes the situation in some ways. Most notably, if drugs or alcohol were, indeed, involved in the accident that opens the possibility of a legal claim under Oregon’s social host and dram shop laws against not only the driver but also the individual, bar or liquor store that gave or sold the driver drugs or alcohol. Because Oregon requires training in the specifics of its dram shop laws for all bartenders this sort of liability can be especially difficult to avoid.
It is also necessary for police to explore whether the situation along the roadside was sufficiently safe. Based on the media reports alone we cannot draw any conclusions about this, but common sense indicates that there are safe and unsafe ways to set up a flagging operation. If the company that employed the highway worker did not pay enough attention to setting up its flagging operation in a safe way it, too, could face legal action.
As an Oregon and Washington car and truck accident lawyer I see far too many cases like this every week. With a busy holiday weekend coming up, and winter weather set to arrive soon, it is especially important that anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car or truck takes every proper safety precaution. Drinking and driving is a particular problem during the holidays, and it should not require public information campaigns for everyone to keep that in mind.
The Oregonian: Flagger Struck by Vehicle on Oregon 99W south of Amity