On March 30, 2023, tragedy struck the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) as one of their own, employee Gerald Woodard, lost his life in a car crash while performing traffic control duties. Woodard, who had worked for the department for over 20 years, was a beloved member of the NMDOT community and his loss has been felt deeply by his colleagues and friends.
Woodard was working on the I-25 southbound frontage road in Socorro County when the crash occurred. According to reports, a driver failed to slow down or move over for the traffic control zone and collided with Woodard’s vehicle. Woodard sustained fatal injuries in the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Woodard’s colleagues have described him as a dedicated and hardworking employee who always went above and beyond to ensure the safety of the public and his fellow workers. His supervisor, NMDOT District Engineer Timothy Parker, spoke highly of Woodard’s commitment to his job, stating, “He was a true professional who always put safety first. He took his job seriously and always made sure that the public was safe when they traveled through his work zones.”
CRASH INVESTIGATION NEEDED
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), transportation incidents are the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the United States. In 2019, 1,066 workers were killed in transportation incidents, accounting for 40% of all workplace fatalities. The NMDOT has been working to address this issue by implementing safety measures and training programs for their employees. The department requires all employees who work on or near roadways to complete a training program that covers topics such as traffic control, personal protective equipment, and safe work practices. The department also encourages drivers to obey traffic laws and move over for emergency vehicles and work zones.
Woodard’s death has also brought attention to the importance of the Move Over Law in New Mexico. The law requires drivers to move over or slow down when passing emergency vehicles, tow trucks, and other service vehicles that are stopped on the side of the road. The law was expanded in 2019 to include all stationary vehicles, including NMDOT work vehicles and personnel. Violating the Move Over Law can result in fines and even imprisonment in certain cases. The “move over law” applies to all emergency vehicles, including police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances, as well as tow trucks and other roadside assistance vehicles. Violating the move over law can result in a traffic citation and fines. Additionally, failure to comply with the move over law can result in serious accidents and injuries to first responders and other roadside workers. Therefore, it is essential for drivers to be aware of the move over law and to take appropriate action when passing emergency or roadside vehicles. Woodard’s death is a sobering reminder of the dangers that transportation workers face and the importance of safety measures and training programs to prevent workplace fatalities.
The cause of the crash involving the NMDOT worker, as well as liability issues, are still being investigated. However, Brian Colón, an experienced New Mexico accident attorney, said it is imperative to have a thorough and independent investigation conducted by knowledgeable professionals.
WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIM
Pending the investigation, the family members of Gerald Woodard may be entitled to a wrongful death claim. Family members of wrongful death victims may seek damages for loss of companionship, pain and suffering, and emotional distress following a catastrophic accident such as this tragic incident.
“Every day, transportation workers put their lives in jeopardy to help protect drivers and passengers in New Mexico while building our infrastructure,” said Brian Colón, Managing Partner of Singleton Schreiber’s New Mexico offices. “This tragedy impacts his family, his friends, the entire NMDOT community as well as the larger population that depends upon the dedicated work of people like Mr. Woodard. Anyone who has lost a loved one due to the negligence of others should contact a wrongful death attorney immediately to help them through this complicated and heart wrenching process.”
New Mexico’s premier personal injury law firm Singleton Schreiber is providing analysis on the tragic accident that took place on March 30, 2023. For any legal questions on this accident or any other New Mexico personal injury or wrongful death case, call Singleton Schreiber at our Los Lunas office at (505) 807-0426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.