Like mail cars, UPS trucks, Amazon Prime delivery vans and other public service vehicles, garbage and recycling trucks are familiar sights along Evansville, Indiana roads. Though most people would not think to say so, they also give residents a sense of comfort, as they are indicators of healthy, well-functioning communities. Yet, despite the reassurance garbage trucks can bring to communities, they can also bring the risk of accidents and serious injuries. Due to their sheer size — and due to the fact that they come equipped with built-in heavy machinery — garbage truck accidents can result in severe and possibly fatal injuries. Unfortunately, garbage truck accidents occur with increasing frequency, resulting in approximately 100 fatalities and more than 1,000 injuries per year. If you or a loved one is the victim of a garbage truck accident in Evansville, IN, you may now live with extensive injuries, costly medical expenses and a diminished quality of life. If this is the case, the law may entitle you to compensation. However, filing and pursuing a garbage truck accident to success is not easy. An experienced Evansville, IN garbage truck accident lawyer can help you gather the evidence you need to strengthen your case and recover the maximum amount of compensation.
Garbage Truck Accident Statistics
Garbage truck events affect both members of the public and solid waste workers. According to data from the Solid Waste Association of North America, most solid waste incidents fall into one of two categories: single-vehicle events involving only a waste collection vehicle and struck-by collection vehicle events. Below are a few stats worth noting:
- In 2020, 52 solid waste workers died in single-vehicle events, nearly 70 percent of which occurred during collection
- Many struck-by events involve just a waste-collection vehicle and either a helper or the driver who was out of the cab at the time of collection
- Seventy-six members of the public died in collisions with waste collection vehicles in 2020
Though the exact number is unclear, it is estimated that around 1,500 garbage truck accidents occur each year.
Why Waste Collection Vehicle Accidents Happen
Garbage and recycling truck accidents occur for many of the same reasons that typical truck accidents occur including distracted driving, failure to yield, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and speeding. However, certain circumstances and factors are unique to garbage trucks alone. For instance, the typical route for a waste collection vehicle is through residential streets as opposed to large interstates and highways. Many of these streets are narrow alleyways, one-way roads or roads on which other vehicles park and children play. Moreover, trash trucks have large blind spots, making it difficult for drivers to see rear approaching vehicles, vehicles attempting to go around them, bicyclists and other objects. Finally, collection vehicles frequently stop and go, many times abruptly. This may make it difficult for oncoming vehicles to anticipate a truck’s next move. Each of these unique factors contributes to trash truck accident rates. Of course, garbage truck accidents occur because of everyday factors as well. Those include but are not limited to the following:
- Driver fatigue
- Driver inattention
- Aggressive or careless driving
- Lack of driver training
- Mechanical failure
- Overloading of waste collection vehicles
Finally, garbage trucks may struggle to stop because of the excess weight they often carry. This is particularly true at the end of their routes. When they cannot stop quickly enough, they may accidentally rear-end a lead vehicle or slide into a busy intersection.
What To Do After a Collision With a Garbage Truck Accident
The injuries you may live with following a garbage truck accident could be enough to necessitate costly and ongoing medical care. You may also find that you are unable to work, engage in the activities you once loved and, in general, enjoy your life. In your quest for justice, you may file a personal injury claim. While tort law exists to compensate victims of negligence, the courts do not automatically side in the plaintiffs’ favor. Rather, because of all that is at stake, plaintiffs have the burden of proof to show that the defendant caused the accident and that said accident resulted in significant damages. As you can imagine, you have a lot of work cut out for you if you hope to obtain a favorable outcome. Ideally, you will begin taking steps immediately after the accident to protect your legal rights. Steps you should take after your garbage truck accident are as follows:
- Call the local police station and report the accident right away.
- Assess yourself and other parties to the accident for injuries. If anyone sustained injuries, request an ambulance.
- Collect the at-fault driver’s information, including name, address, phone number, insurance information and information on the driver’s company.
- If possible, take pictures of the scene of the accident, including damage to the vehicles, skid marks on the road, traffic signs and signals, and nearby landmarks.
- Take pictures of your injuries and the injuries of any person in your vehicle.
- Identify any witnesses and gather their information as well.
The responding officer should collect much of this information on your behalf. However, it does not hurt to cover all your bases and do what you can to protect your legal rights on your own. In addition to doing the above, there are steps you can take once you get home to bolster your case. For instance, even if you did not sustain serious injuries — which is unlikely, given the size of trash trucks — it is crucial to your case that you seek medical attention as soon after the accident as possible. Medical reports from after the accident can give insurers an accurate idea of your physical health post-accident and protect you when, inevitably, insurers question the nature of your injuries. Finally, you may want to consider contacting a personal injury lawyer who specializes in trash truck accidents. The right attorney can help you assess the facts of your case, inform you of what more you need to do to strengthen your case and advocate on your behalf when you are up against money-backed trash truck companies, their insurers and their legal teams.
Types of Damages You Can Collect in a Garbage Truck Accident Claim
The types of damages you may collect after a trash truck accident and in what amount all depend on the nature and extent of your injuries. However, vehicle accident damages typically fall into one of two categories: economic and noneconomic damages. Examples of both are as follows:
- Medical expenses, including hospitalization, surgery, prescription medications and physical therapy
- Lost wages, both past and future
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental duress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
If you lost a loved one in a garbage truck accident, you may have a wrongful death claim on your hands.
When To Hire a Garbage Truck Accident Lawyer
Ideally, you will hire a trash truck accident attorney as soon after your accident as possible. An attorney with the right experience and an outstanding reputation within the local legal community can help you gather the evidence to support your claim, seek appropriate expert testimony, negotiate with insurers on your behalf and do what is necessary to recover the maximum amount of compensation. For the legal support you need and deserve at this difficult time in your life, contact the Hensley Legal Group to schedule your free consultation today.
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