Injured drivers win appeal against Ogden contractor

Friday , July 25, 2014 - 3:07 PM

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A case of confusion in an Ogden construction zone that resulted in injury will have its day in court. 

The Utah Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the 2nd District Court to dismiss a lawsuit by a couple’s insurance company against a road contractor, according to the ruling filed Friday.

The lawsuit centers around an accident in 2009 during the major overhaul of 12th Street in Ogden. 

In October 2009, Scott and Brenda McDowell were traveling to Ogden to visit family. On their way, they mistakenly got off Interstate 15 at the 12th Street exit. Trying to get back onto the freeway among the constricting construction barriers, they pulled into a parking lot and got back onto the road on the westbound lanes.

What the couple didn't know was that the lanes they were on were supposed to be closed, but they claim they saw no warnings or barriers to indicate so. They were traveling at night and didn't see that the side of the road they were on was unfinished and that there was a drop off that they went over. 

The couple sustained injuries and damages to their car which their insurance agency, United Fire Group, covered.

However, United Fire filed a lawsuit against the road contractor, Staker and Parson Companies, claiming that the contractor failed to properly warn motorists about the closed lanes.

Staker and Parson requested the lawsuit be thrown out because United Fire did not offer expert testimony to explain how there was any negligence.

Judge Michael DiReda ruled in favor of the contractors to dismiss the lawsuit. But United Fire appealed and successfully argued to the Appeals Court that expert testimony was not needed and that the average juror’s knowledge of construction traffic procedures was enough to determine whether or not the contractors would be negligent. 

The Appeals Court remanded the decision and sent the case back to the District Court where it will proceed again.

Contact reporter Andreas Rivera at 801-625-4227 or arivera@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @SE_Andreas.

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