Suit settled in construction zone crash that badly injured woman

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A road contractor and a dump truck company have settled a lawsuit with a Jacksonville woman who was badly injured in a construction zone crash in December 2009.

Melicent Sanders (pictured below) said her car was crushed between a dump truck and another car on Interstate 10 between Lane Avenue and Chafee Road.

"That's scary. That scares me and since that time, I can't really drive by myself at all," said Sanders. "I have a phobia that I think somebody is coming behind me to hit me again."

Sanders said she's been in pain for more than three years, and that she can't even remember the accident.

Her attorney, Curry Pajcic, said the setup for the construction site should have slowed traffic to 15 mph.

Melicent Sanders

On the day of the crash, the posted speed limit was 60 mph and the minimum was 40.

Pajcic said the accident could have been prevented. He said it's the construction company's responsibility to have someone in place to slow drivers down.

"There was no regress lane for the travel lane. There was no police car with lights flashing.
There was no warning sign. There was nothing," said Pajcic.

Pajcic said the Florida Department of Transportation has regulations in place for construction sites, and the fact there was nothing forcing the dump truck to slow down caused the accident.

While under oath, Pajcic asked Gary Roberson, a supervisor with GEC Trucking Inc, if GEC drivers had ever expressed concerns about the safety of getting on and off the expressway at the work site. Roberson answered yes.

Witnesses of the accident thought Sanders was dead.

She had bleeding on the brain, a dislocated right knee, a crushed left knee and a fractured left arm. She said she was in a coma and can't even remember the accident.

Sanders said the pain of it might be with her for the rest of her life. She said she still has to go to physical therapy.

She says now she can't work or take care of her grandchildren, and she's fearful about ever going through a construction site again.

"I don't think I'm gonna do it anytime soon because I'm scared," said Sanders.

Sanders and her attorney hope that this case sends a message to construction companies, saying they need to be held accountable.

The construction company involved in the lawsuit, Hubbard, has not commented.