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July, 1998 Articles

July 1, 1998
Louisiana Court Reduces Damages in Drop-Off Case

A motorist driving in a highway construction zone at night left the paved roadway surface and went over a drop-off. As she tried to re-enter the highway, her vehicle blew a tire and overturned. She sued the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) for creating a drop-off hazard and failing to warn drivers. The trial court assigned the DOTD 15 percent fault and awarded damages to the injured driver. The DOTD and the plaintiff appealed the apportionment of fault, and the DOT contested the damage awards, based on the plaintiff's failure to mitigate her damages. The appeals court assigned 70 percent fault to the DOTD and reduced the damage award.


July 1, 1998
Court Upholds Louisiana Motorist's Liability in Work Zone Edge Drop-Off Crash

Driving through a construction zone, a motorist entered the Interstate median while passing a truck. When he tried to return to the highway, he lost control of his vehicle, crossed to the right shoulder, and overturned. He sued, claiming a drop-off between the median and the left lane caused him to lose control of his vehicle. Moreover, because of the lack of temporary edge striping, he said he could not tell where the left lane ended. The 22nd Judicial District Court, Parish of St. Tammany found the driver's actions caused the crash and his injuries. The Court of Appeal of Louisiana, First Circuit, affirmed the judgment.


July 1, 1998
South Carolina Court Affirms Jury's Assignment of Fault to DOT in Drop-Off Crash Injury

A motorist suffered injuries when her car went out of control after encountering a drop-off where she left the paved roadway in a construction zone. The motorist sued the highway construction contractor and the South Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT). The jury found the DOT solely at fault. The DOT appealed, citing trial court errors. The appeals court agreed with the trial court, ruling that the construction company's contract was ambiguous and the contractor's indemnity bond did not exempt the DOT from liability.


July 1, 1998
Research Shows Need for Countermeasures to Reduce Pedestrian Fatalities on Interstate Highways

More than 10 percent of pedestrian fatalities occur on Interstate highways, although the Interstate system is only 1 percent of the total road mileage. Christopher D. Johnson reported the results of a study of these statistics in "Pedestrian Fatalities on Interstate Highways: Characteristics and Countermeasures," which appeared in the Transportation Research Board's Transportation Research Record No. 1578. This article summarizes that report and describes data on pedestrian fatalities from 1991 to 1993 in three states with a large number of Interstate pedestrian fatalities. The report identified factors that contribute to pedestrian fatalities on freeways and activities likely to result in a pedestrian being on the freeway.


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