Collisions between cement trucks and other automobiles pose a significant danger to the vehicles involved and other drivers on the roadway. Despite the excellent training available from the National Ready Mix Concrete Association, accidents involving cement trucks happen every year. It's vital that you know what to do and who to call for help if you've been involved in this kind of collision.
If you or someone you love has suffered injury or damages from a cement truck accident, the Johnson Attorneys Group is ready to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Our mission is to support you and hold the responsible parties accountable for their roles in the accident. We don't charge any upfront fees; you only pay us if we win your case. With JAG, we ensure you have the best in medical care while we fight for your rights under California law. Contact our cement truck accident lawyers for a free consultation at 800-235-6801.
Why Are Cement Truck Accidents Dangerous?
Fully loaded concrete mixers weigh up to 66,000 pounds, around 10 times that of a loaded pickup truck. The size and weight of cement trucks mean that operators must take extra precautions as they drive, from painstakingly minding their blind spots to following every rule of the road without exception. Many cement truck accidents cause additional dangers, such as multi-car pile ups when sideswiped vehicles or rolled trucks are pushed into other parallel or oncoming traffic lanes.
Furthermore, a cement truck is unique due to the many tons of rotating fluid in the high-mounted mixer drum. These fluids create a constantly shifting center of gravity higher than most commercial trucks, leading to a rollover rate of 10 times the national vehicle average.
Wide Turn Accidents
Truck drivers are at increased risk for accidents when making right-hand turns due to the truck's size and the tightness of the turn. If an operator attempts a right turn by swinging far to the left before turning, cars in nearby left lanes may get caught beneath or crash into the large truck that unexpectedly enters their lane.
The NRMCA points out that a loaded cement truck with a rotating mixer drum can begin to tip if it makes a 90-degree turn at a mere 12 miles per hour. At 16 miles per hour, the truck will roll over. This potential instability means that if a cement truck operator drives too fast for conditions or turns too sharply, the truck can tip over, causing a hazardous situation for other drivers.
While rollover accidents often happen due to reckless or negligent driving behaviors, some rollovers have other causes. For instance, tire blowouts due to manufacturing defects or improper maintenance may also cause rollover accidents.
T-bone accidents happen when cement truck drivers violate the proper right of way at an intersection and smash perpendicularly into the side of another car. Drivers who ignore stop signs or red lights from running through an intersection are often speeding, tired, distracted or under the influence, so they ignore the posted signs or signals. These wrecks also occur if a cement truck turns improperly across traffic.
When vehicles traveling next to one another in the same direction crash into one another, it's considered a "sideswipe accident." Sometimes these accidents occur when a cement truck driver loses control of his vehicle due to obstacles in the road, tire blowouts or dangerous weather conditions.
More commonly, a commercial truck driver may fail to check their multiple blind spots before attempting to merge or change lanes and so strikes a vehicle traveling beside them on the road. Along the same lines, drivers distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol can drift into nearby lanes and cause accidents.
Cement trucks' incredible weight and fluid cargo require a significantly longer braking distance than typical vehicles, even other commercial trucks. The consequences can be disastrous if a truck driver engages in reckless or negligent behaviors, such as speeding, tailgating, or impaired or distracted driving. The size imbalance between a cement truck and passenger vehicles means a rear-end collision can crush the smaller vehicle on impact.
As with vehicles of any size, head-on collisions lead to some of the most devastating accidents. Again, the size and weight of cement trucks increase the potential for catastrophic injuries and death of other drivers, as the impact can completely crush smaller cars and trucks. Head-on collisions can occur when drivers are driving too fast or recklessly or are impaired by fatigue or drugs or alcohol and drift into other lanes. Tire blowouts can also cause cement truck drivers to suddenly swerve into oncoming traffic, resulting in a head-on collision.
Who Receives Compensation in a Cement Truck Accident?
In the event of an accident, the cement truck driver may be held liable for an accident if your attorney can prove that the driver was negligent. The theory of "vicarious liability" also may apply so that the trucking company, or the construction company where the cement truck was employed, bears responsibility for negligent actions. Depending on the ultimate cause of the crash, the truck manufacturer or maintenance company may also be responsible for compensating victims of the accident.
California's Pure Comparative Negligence Law
California adheres to the "pure comparative negligence rule," which means that even if you're partially responsible for the accident, you can still recover the remaining portion of the award. In other words, even if you're 70% liable for the crash, you can still recover 30% of your damages. For instance, if the court awards you $400,000 but also finds that you bear 75% of the responsibility for the accident. You could still receive $100,000 to cover your remaining losses.
Suppose you have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the carelessness or negligence of a cement truck driver. In that case, California law permits you to pursue compensation for financial losses and emotional suffering caused by a wrongful death. These complex and often lengthy cases require surviving family members to provide the same evidence as the deceased might have, had they pursued the claim after the accident.
Wrongful death lawsuits generally include claims for economic damages such as funeral expenses, loss of income and punitive damages. Non-economic damages covered by wrongful death lawsuits in California often include the following:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
Family members must file wrongful death lawsuits within two years of the accident and may be filed against a person, company or another entity. These claims differ from criminal cases, such as homicide, because their value is based entirely on monetary damages rather than potential jail time or probation for at-fault parties. As a result, California allows families to file a wrongful death lawsuit while a criminal case is in progress.
How Can a Cement Truck Accident Lawyer Help?
Fighting for your rights and sufficient compensation after a cement truck accident can feel overwhelming, especially if you're dealing with injuries, financial hardship or losing a loved one. Let the experienced team of accident lawyers at JAG do the heavy lifting for you while you focus on your physical and emotional healing. Reach out today for your free consultation.