Concrete is one of the most commonly used man-made materials in the world, with about ten billion tons being produced for projects around the world each year. In the U.S. alone, about 500 million tons of concrete—two tons each for every man, woman, and child in the country—are produced each year, with widespread use in buildings, roads, bridges, dams, sidewalks, and other permanent structures we see every day.
This substance is highly important to modern society, but did you ever wonder how it came to be? Concrete trucks are more than just commercial vehicles. They are also portable mixing plants. Concrete truck operators are tasked not only with safely and properly operating and driving the truck, but with maintaining the mixer as well. With concrete trucks, a lot can go wrong and cause injuries to others.
If you have been injured in a concrete truck accident or have lost a loved one due to an accident involving a concrete truck, you may obtain compensation for the financial and emotional harm you have suffered as a result of your injury. When you’re in pain from damage caused by someone else’s careless or reckless actions, don’t stand idly by. Team up with us for help fighting for the compensation you deserve.
Concrete Trucks Have a Long List of Hazards
Despite their importance in the construction industry, concrete trucks have a veritable laundry list of hazards. These risks apply to the operators of the truck as well as others on the job site and others using the roadway.
Here is a list of just some of the many dangerous features of a concrete truck:
- High and ever-changing center of gravity: Concrete mixers are designed to have spinning parts and to carry heavy weight. The weight shifts as the parts move, causing the center of gravity to shift as well. This can make it difficult to stop the vehicle and can place the driver at risk of rolling the vehicle over if turns are taken too sharply or too quickly.
- Massive size: Like other types of commercial trucks, concrete trucks are massive. The large size of the vehicle makes it difficult to maneuver, particularly in emergency driving situations.
- Blind spots: Also like other commercial vehicles, a tall and long concrete truck has significant blind spots or “no-zones,” which are areas around the vehicle where the driver cannot see an obstacle such as another vehicle or a person. This puts them at risk of having an accident, and this is particularly true with the rear area of the truck. This is why concrete truck operators are federally required to ensure that their backup warning system is enabled and working properly.
- Improper maintenance: The weight of the concrete puts stress on the axles and brakes. Without proper maintenance, these parts of the concrete truck can wear excessively, placing the driver and others at risk of serious injury if the vehicle breaks down.
- Inexperienced drivers: The drivers of concrete trucks are required to obtain special licensing to learn the safe operation of the vehicle. The concrete company that hired the driver also has the responsibility to adequately train the driver to handle the rigors of this specific position.
- Tight deadlines: Mixed concrete can only stay inside the truck for a little while before it hardens and becomes very difficult to move. Because of this, concrete truck drivers are on tight deadlines. This sometimes results in safety precautions being overlooked and leads to drivers speeding down the roadway from one job to the next. Speeding kills more than 9,000 people each year. Driving too fast for the conditions of the roadway poses several hazards, including an increased distance required for the vehicle to come to a safe stop, less time for the driver to perceive a hazard and react by depressing the brakes, less ability to maneuver the vehicle, increased momentum and force, and a subsequent increase in crash severity. These are major risks when one is operating a vehicle that is already harder to maneuver and stop.
Bottom line: Concrete trucks are large vehicles with rotating parts that are capable of crushing smaller vehicles and causing serious injury or death. They are dangerous in the wrong hands or in the wrong conditions.
Who Was Liable for Your Concrete Truck Accident?
One of the most common questions asked of accident victims is: Who was at fault? It is an important question, as it determines your eligibility to pursue compensation for the expenses and emotional costs of your injury.
To show liability, you must prove these three things:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care is defined by the actions that a reasonable person would take in similar circumstances. For example, a reasonable concrete truck driver would operate the vehicle safely and legally.
- There was a breach in the duty of care. The breach defines the actions that the at-fault party took that were contrary to the duty of care that was owed. Let’s say the concrete driver in your case decided to have a few beers on his lunch break. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the agency tasked with overseeing the trucking industry in the U.S., has established a legal limit of 0.04 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood for holders of commercial drivers licenses (CDLs)—which is half the level of impairment that most drivers in most states are legally permitted to be when driving. If the driver resumed working after his lunch break with a BAC of 0.05, that is unsafe behavior and constitutes a breach of the duty of care.
- The breach in the duty of care resulted in the accident, which caused you to become injured and incur costs and impacts on your quality of life.
The liable parties in a concrete truck accident can include:
- The negligent concrete driver who violated their duty to operate the vehicle safely and legally. The driver must also ensure a safe trip by properly loading and unloading the truck, performing daily inspections on the truck, ensuring that the truck is serviced and maintained, and logging in the truck’s mileage.
- The concrete or construction company that employs the driver. Construction companies have responsibilities when it comes to their hiring decisions involving individuals who operate heavy machinery on public roadways. In addition to helping to ensure that the driver is properly licensed and trained for the job, the company must also perform a background check on the driver, obtain a copy of their driving record, and ensure that they’ve met the other federal requirements to be a commercial truck driver. Failing to take these actions when hiring can place the company at risk for being liable for injuries caused by the driver during the normal course of their employment. This is known as vicarious liability.
- Other roadway users: Concrete truck drivers are not always responsible. Sometimes, the actions of another driver will lead to an accident involving a concrete truck.
- The entity tasked with providing service on the vehicle. Concrete trucks, like other commercial trucks, must be regularly maintained. If the entity that performs this service fails to do so adequately or fails to diagnose a problem that leads to a deadly accident, it may be liable.
- The manufacturer or distributor of defective truck parts. All parties in the manufacturing chain must design parts—such as those used in vehicles—so they do not pose an unreasonable risk of injury when used according to labeled instructions. If a part of the concrete truck malfunctioned as the result of a defective design or manufacturing defect, the manufacturer or distributor may be liable for the injuries caused.
Remember: There is not always just one source of liability. One of the important services that your truck accident attorney will perform is a determination of all liable parties and all insurance resources that can be used to compensate you. Insurance pays the vast majority of truck accident claims, and the FMCSA requires a higher policy limit on commercial trucks due to the catastrophic nature of the injuries that this type of accident generally causes.
However, a serious injury can exceed the limits of even a large insurance policy rather quickly, particularly if multiple people were injured. More than one source of liability means more than one insurance policy that can be used to help ensure that you obtain fair compensation for the harm you have suffered. Don’t miss out on the money you need!
Types of Claims
Whether you were injured in an accident involving a concrete truck or you lost a loved one in this type of accident, you could seek compensation for your injuries through a legal claim filed in civil court. A claim not only proves who was liable for the accident that caused your injury, but also shows the expenses and the impacts you have suffered as a result.
Truck Accident Claims
The truck accident claims process involves injuries, which are often catastrophic in cases involving concrete trucks. Catastrophic injuries are those that result in a permanent disability that prevents an individual from working or performing day-to-day personal care tasks without assistance. This is the worst type of injury to have. Examples of this type of injury include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, extensive burns, or amputations.
In the world of civil law, the word damage is used to define a payment made in compensation for harm. All states in the nation allow accident victims to seek both economic as well as non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to a payment made in compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred due to your injury, while non-economic damages are collected in compensation for the impact your injury has had on your quality of life.
Some of the damages commonly sought in a truck accident lawsuit are:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle that was damaged in the accident
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
Wrongful Death Claims
If you have lost a loved one in a concrete accident, a wrongful death lawsuit is the type of claim you would file to seek compensation. In most states, only family members who relied on the deceased for services and support can file a claim. In some states, a personal representative of the estate must file the claim on the family’s behalf.
Spouses, children, and parents of the deceased are normally eligible to benefit from a wrongful death claim. These parties can receive damages such as:
- Loss of services and support
- Medical expenses incurred in the treatment of the deceased’s final injury
- Lost wages from the time of the accident until the time of death, as well as loss of prospective net accumulations that the estate would have experienced if the deceased would have survived
- Loss of care, companionship, guidance, and consortium
You deserve a skilled truck accident lawyer to help you seek these damages. Truckers, trucking companies, and their insurers have armies of lawyers who will fight hard to keep you from collecting the money you need. Don’t let anything stand in your way as you treat your injuries or obtain justice for your loved one. Look for a firm with the resources, personnel, and experience to take on these corporations—one that can win you the compensation you deserve.
For more information, contact us for a confidential, convenient, FREE case evaluation.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.