Cement or concrete mixer trucks are large vehicles used in California roads and highways to transport wet concrete to construction sites. These top-heavy vehicles can weigh up to 30,000 pounds when empty and can carry an additional 30,000 pounds or more of wet cement. This massive weight plays a significant role in making cement truck accidents among the most dangerous traffic accidents.
In addition to being larger than most vehicles on the road, cement trucks are unique as they carry cylinder-shaped containers that can sometimes prevent the driver from seeing his/her surroundings properly. The fact that cement mixture usually hardens in up to 90 minutes means cement truck drivers are mostly speeding to reach construction sites.
These factors make it hard for cement drivers to stop the trucks in an emergency or unexpected situation. Consequently, small distractions on the road usually lead to a traffic accident. Other leading causes of cement truck accidents include equipment malfunction, negligent driving, and poor road conditions.
Considering the massive weight of the trucks, cement truck accidents can be devastating. The accident can kill or leave other road users with severe injuries, including people in passenger vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. If you or a loved one is a victim of a cement truck accident, you deserve compensation. At Fiore Legal we are committed to helping you get the compensation you need and deserve.
Mostly, there is no specific data for cement trucks in the United States as the U.S Department of Transport (DOT) classifies them under the "Class 8 Heavy Trucks" category in its reports. However, the category also includes many other trucks, including dump trucks, coal trucks, '18-wheelers', and other similar vehicles. Consequently, it's hard to determine which accidents specifically involve cement trucks from government databases.
The fact that government transportation agencies do not maintain cement trucks specific data means it is not clear how many cement trucks are operational in America. However, there exist crowdsourced data and approximations from industry advocates. According to 2017 crowdsourced data;
According to a 2017 DOT Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) report;
Compared to passenger vehicle drivers, California law holds cement truck drivers to a higher standard of care. Consequently, it is rare to find an intoxicated or poorly trained cement truck driver. Secondly, cement truck drivers are employees of private construction companies who try to avoid vicarious liability at all costs. These companies usually ensure they employ experienced and skilled drivers. While these conditions and measures act as a hindrance to negligent driving, there are still cement truck accidents by negligent drivers.
Due to a cement truck's large size, the other vehicle occupants are more likely to sustain severe injuries or even die in case of a collision. Cement truck accidents are also dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Victims of these accidents usually suffer catastrophic injuries, including sprains and broken bones, brain injuries and concussions, spinal cord injuries, among other life-altering injuries.
There are different types of cement truck accidents including, collisions with other vehicles, hitting pedestrians or bicyclists, rollover accidents, fuel spills, concrete material spills on the road, and accidents at construction sites. While these accidents usually have different underlying causes, the most common causes of cement truck accidents include negligent driving, poor maintenance of trucks, equipment malfunction, poor road conditions, poor weather, and improper loading.
Cement truck driver’s negligence can take many forms including, speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence. Even though cement truck drivers spend a lot of time training on safe driving and have a higher duty of care than other drivers, they still make errors on the road.
Despite California’s strict DUI laws, driving under the influence is one of the major causes of traffic accidents in Los Angeles. The pressure associated with cement truck driving can leave drivers stressed and fatigued. Most cement truck drivers take stimulating substances, including amphetamines, to deal with stress or fatigue. The substances drastically reduce the driver's ability to drive properly, increasing the likelihood of a traffic accident.
While cases of drowsy or drunk cement truck drivers exist, mostly, it is the passenger vehicle driver involved in a cement truck accident who is drunk or distracted. As a victim of drunk driving in a cement truck accident, it is crucial to have a skilled attorney to help you claim compensation.
Cement manufacturers recommend for concrete or cement mixture to be poured in approximately an hour after mixing. This means that drivers are usually on a tight deadline to reach their destination. Consequently, most drivers are tempted to over-speed or engage in reckless behavior, including running red lights and carelessly changing lanes to deliver the mixture on time. Considering the massive weight of a cement truck, the rush usually results in devastating cement truck accidents.
Distracted driving involves cases of driving while talking on the phone or with other passengers. In some cases, it may also involve driving while eating or drinking. The truck driver may also be distracted by focusing on the navigation system, the radio, or something else on the road, including billboards.
In negligent driving cases, the insurance companies always seek to reduce the at-fault driver’s liability. Even when it is obvious that you are a victim of negligent driving, insurance companies may still seek to reduce or delay your compensation claims. Therefore, it is essential to have an experienced cement truck accident attorney fighting for your rights, including the compensation you deserve.
Poor maintenance of trucks
The cement or concrete mixture that cement trucks carry usually adds up to 30,000 pounds or more. This tremendous weight on the truck's rear axle can easily cause a poorly maintained axel to give way. Additionally, the massive weight also leads to wear and tear of other parts of the truck, and if not carefully and frequently inspected, it can lead to mechanical breakdowns. A cement truck that unexpectedly breaks down on the road, especially when fully loaded, can be very dangerous. The breakdown can lead to a rollover accident, which is usually catastrophic.
In addition to insufficient maintenance of the trucks, related equipment, including the mixer and other parts of the vehicle, may unexpectedly fail due to defective manufacturing. The mechanic may also intentionally or unintentionally add a dangerous or defective part while doing repairs.
Several parties may be liable in equipment failure cases, including the manufacturer, the mechanic, and the company that sold the cement truck. The possibility of multiple parties' liability means you need an experienced cement truck accident lawyer to protect your rights and help you claim compensation as a victim of such an accident.
Poor road and weather conditions
The large size of a cement truck driver and the massive weight make driving them a hard task. This task becomes harder when the driver has to deal with poor road and weather conditions either because of rain or snow. Other road hazards, including poorly maintained roads, also make it hard for the driver. Where the driver is inexperienced or poorly trained, these conditions increase the likelihood of a traffic accident.
Where poor road conditions are the cause of a cement truck accident, you may be able to file a compensation claim against government agencies. However, filing such claims is complicated and must be done within stipulated timelines. If you are a victim of such an accident, you need to hire an experienced cement truck accident attorney to avoid missing on compensation.
Depending on the weight they can carry and other capacities, cement trucks are different, and the law requires construction companies to follow loading regulations for the different trucks. However, cases of overloading and improper loading are common. Mostly, overloading a cement truck increases the truck's likelihood of being involved in an accident, including rollovers and jackknifing accidents. If you are a victim of such accidents, you need a skilled cement truck accident attorney to protect your rights against the negligent party/parties.
Like other personal injury claims, California law requires the plaintiff in a cement truck accident to prove that the defendant’s negligent acts were the cause of his/her injuries. As the plaintiff, the law requires you to prove that:
From rear-end collisions to rollovers to hitting pedestrians and cyclists, cement truck accidents come in varied forms and have different causes. Consequently, it is usually hard to determine who is liable or who the at-fault party/parties are. As a plaintiff, you may find it hard determining the basis of your personal injury claim. While you need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the complex process, you also need to understand related legal concepts, including a duty of care, vicarious liability, the statute of limitations, and multiple defendants.
Truck Driver’s Duty of Care
The law requires cement truck drivers to follow a higher standard of care while on the roads. Since the legal principle of negligence plays a significant role in determining who is liable in a personal injury claim, the truck driver's higher duty of care usually comes into focus in cement truck accidents. The cement truck driver's higher duty of care means the law can hold him/her liable even for small acts of negligence.
In most cases, the higher standard of care that the law expects of truck drivers makes it easy for plaintiffs to file personal injury claims. However, if found guilty, the negligent driver will only go to prison or pay a fine. The plaintiff can only get compensation from other parties in what is known as vicarious liability.
Similar to negligence, the legal principle of vicarious liability is significant in determining who is liable in a cement truck accident. Vicarious liability occurs when other parties are liable to pay for damages due to the cement truck driver's negligence.
The construction company that has employed the driver is mostly vicariously liable for his/her negligent actions. Essentially, an employer is supposed to be extra careful when employing people for positions with a higher duty of care. Personal injury attorneys in cement truck accidents usually use the principle of vicarious liability to go after construction companies since plaintiffs cannot claim compensation from truck drivers. In this case, the construction company becomes a co-defendant in the personal injury case.
Statute of Limitations
Statute of limitations refers to the different timelines that the law permits a plaintiff to file personal injury claims. The principle is mostly applicable where the personal injury claim is against a government agency as the law allows for a shorter claim period. In California, you must file such claims within six months of the accidents or lose your compensation. Therefore, you must immediately file personal injury claims in cement truck accidents due to poor road conditions where a government agency is a defendant.
The complexity of cement truck accidents means that more than one person or entity can be liable to pay damages in a single accident. Cement truck drivers, construction companies, truck manufacturers, mechanics, and government agencies are among the various parties a plaintiff can sue in one case. Mostly, this is common in an accident caused by equipment malfunction or poor road conditions. However, the plaintiff needs to identify the different valid claims they have against the multiple defendants in a case. For instance, in one accident, the plaintiff may sue the truck driver for negligence but still have claims against a government agency for poor road conditions.
If you or your loved one is a victim of a cement truck accident, you may be confused about whether to sue the truck driver or their employee, the construction company. You may also not be aware whether you have claims against any other party, including government agencies. The complexity of the whole process, including dealing with multiple insurance companies, may lead to the loss or delay of your compensation for damages. At the Fiore Legal our attorneys have broad knowledge in helping victims of cement truck accidents and their families. We will help you get the compensation you need and deserve. To learn more about our services, contact us today.