CAR ACCIDENTS INVOLVING CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES & WORK ZONES
February 17th, 2020 | Christopher C. Quinn
Pennsylvania has over a quarter million miles of public roads, streets and toll roads. At times, it seems that most of those miles are lined with orange cones. Once we escape the grip of winter, we’ll see a constant stream of construction vehicles on our roads.
Dangers on the Road
Construction vehicles pose a clear danger to motorists. They are substantially bigger and heavier than passenger vehicles. They require longer distances to stop, making rear end collisions more likely. When construction vehicles collide with another vehicle, a tremendous amount of kinetic energy is released. Both vehicles are subject to the same force at impact, however, an automobile’s much smaller mass (3,750 pounds on average) leads to it experiencing higher acceleration. The sudden change in acceleration can result in serious injuries or death.
Different types of construction vehicles present unique hazards. The loose materials carried by dump trucks can fall on other vehicles resulting in serious injuries. With their high center of gravity, concrete mixer trucks are prone to rollovers, even at speeds as low as 5 mph. Concrete pump trucks can exceed 50 feet in length and weigh in excess of 75,000 pounds. Accidents with these enormous vehicles often result in wide-spread destruction involving multiple vehicles and fatalities. Trucks hauling “superloads” such as steel bridge beams weighing over 200,000 pounds and as long as a football field have the potential for catastrophic accidents in the event that the load shifts.
More Dangers in the Work Zone
HKQ Law personal injury attorney Christopher Quinn cautions that “there are additional perils in the work zone. Certain conditions increase the likelihood of accidents in those zones.”
Work zone accidents include:
- rear-end crashes
- sideswipe collisions
- collisions with construction vehicles entering or exiting the construction site
- collisions with construction equipment
Circumstances that can contribute to work zone accidents include:
- insufficient signage
- improper lighting
- routes that necessitate sudden or dangerous maneuvers
- uneven pavement
- confusing detours
- inattentive flag attendant
- debris left on the roadway
- workers or equipment too close to traffic
- equipment malfunctions (e.g., the boom on a concrete pump truck can collapse posing grave danger to anyone within a 200 foot radius.)
Drivers’ actions that contribute to work zone collisions include:
- distracted driving
- improper merging
- ignoring construction signs and signals
Liability for accidents caused by a construction vehicle
There are a number of potential defendants, including:
- driver of the vehicle
- owner of the vehicle
- truck driver’s employer
- company leasing the vehicle
- owner of the leasing company
- maintenance and repair service companies
- manufacturer of vehicle, trailer, or components
- governmental agencies responsible for road conditions
Liability for construction zone accidents
Potential defendants include the government entity or construction company managing the work zone, the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident, or in the case of a malfunctioning or defective product, the manufacturer of that product. It is important to note that government agencies are protected by immunity. In Pennsylvania, however, the Sovereign Immunity Act provides exceptions where immunity will not apply.
Cases involving construction vehicles or construction zones can be quite complex, requiring the attention of an experienced personal injury attorney. If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in either type of accident, call HKQ Law at (800) 760-1529 to schedule a no-obligation consultation.