When you think about personal injuries that happen behind the wheel, you may not immediately think of garbage trucks. You could feel especially lost if you get into an accident with a random garbage truck. Understanding what makes these massive vehicles so dangerous, how to establish negligence and how to protect your rights after a garbage truck accident may save you a lot of time.
Common Reasons for Garbage Truck Accidents
By understanding common reasons for garbage truck accidents, you could have a better idea of why a collision happened. Such knowledge may help you and your lawyer build and strengthen your case.
Driving on Residential Streets
Can you remember the last time you saw a large truck on a residential street rather than a highway? Usually, the only massive vehicles you see in your neighborhood are likely garbage trucks. If pedestrians or motorists and garbage truck drivers cannot see each other, accidents could happen. Because of their massive size, garbage trucks may cause extensive damage and serious injuries, even fatalities.
Driving With Large Blind Spots
Much like semi-trucks, garbage trucks have massive blind spots. Motorists and those on foot must exercise extreme caution while navigating around garbage trucks. Getting caught in a blind spot while a truck backs up, turns or speeds up could end in disaster.
Carrying a Large Load
When garbage trucks fill up, their extra weight makes them extra dangerous. If trash shifts around and destabilizes the truck, it could cause a rollover accident during a turn. Trash collectors must properly secure their loads. Otherwise, loose trash flying out of the truck could trigger an accident.
Navigating Bad Weather
Depending on the weather, sanitation workers could work in snow, ice, rain, or sleet. Such weather makes it hard to see, so drivers may have a hard time noticing cars and people on foot. Some motorists do not drive with their lights on in rain or snow, or their car may blend in with the road. Both conditions make it hard for garbage truck drivers to see everything around them.
Driving With a High Center of Gravity
To ensure trucks collect as much trash as possible, garbage trucks have massive containers. These containers make life easier for trash collectors and truck drivers, but they could become hazards. The truck’s high center of gravity makes it liable to roll over. A quick turn near a motor vehicle or pedestrian may cause crush injuries or death.
To cover their entire route, garbage truck drivers must make several stops. Motorists following too closely or not paying attention may ram into the back of a truck. Truck drivers may bear fault for an accident if frequent stopping wears out a truck’s brakes and it cannot stop quick enough to avoid an accident.
Neglecting to Maintain and Inspect Equipment
Much like semi-trucks, garbage truck drivers must inspect and maintain their trucks regularly. If they do not, they may cause avoidable collisions. Accidents may also happen if workers use defective equipment to perform their jobs. Equipment manufacturers may bear negligence if they release faulty equipment that causes accidents.
Proving Negligence in Garbage Truck Accidents
No matter whether you get into an accident with a garbage truck, a semi-truck or another car, you must prove negligence if you want to recover damages. Proving negligence and fault in garbage truck accidents becomes complicated because some trucks have the right to disregard some rules of the road. For instance, to reach the curb and collect trash, a truck may need to drive on the wrong side of the road, drive the wrong way along a one-way street or drive along the median. Trucks sometimes drive or stop in bike lanes, which could put bikers at risk. If you get into an accident with a truck making a permitted dangerous driving maneuver, you may have a hard time proving negligence.
While garbage trucks provide a vital service, motorists, pedestrians and bikers may have a hard time remembering that while stuck behind a massive vehicle that stops every few feet. If a person peels out from behind a truck or bikes around a truck, they could cause an accident. If that happens, the person could bear fault for their injuries and damage. States use comparative fault laws, which means partially at-fault accident victims may only receive reduced damages from other at-fault parties.
For instance, say a garbage truck sideswipes a car and causes $500,000 in damages and injuries. If a judge or jury finds the motorist drove distracted during the collision, the driver may bear 30% fault for the collision. That means the driver may only recover $150,000, which is 30 percent of $500,000.
Steps to Take After Garbage Truck Accidents
No matter who bears fault for a garbage truck accident, it makes sense to follow specific steps in a collision’s aftermath. Much like you would with any accident, check yourself and passengers for injuries. If anyone needs medical attention, call the paramedics to the scene as quickly as possible. While waiting, do not move anyone or offer medical help you feel unsure about performing.
Call the police to the scene to make a police report. This report helps establish blame, and it supports your insurance claim or lawsuit if you want to take legal action against the truck driver. Gathering verbal or written witness statements also helps determine fault. Ask for witnesses’ contact information, in case you have more questions later.
Take plenty of pictures of the accident scene, including damage to your vehicle and the truck, your injuries, nearby street signs and traffic lights, skid marks and the weather. Pictures tell the story of what happened, and they may help determine how much to seek in damages.
Once the police finish their report and everyone receives medical attention, make an appointment with your physician as soon as possible. Even if you feel fine after the accident, you may have delayed injury symptoms you do not notice until several days or weeks later. If you have injuries, ask your doctor to note you sustained them in a garbage truck accident. If you have a legal case, it helps if your medical documents note you sustained your injuries in an accident. You want to make a clear connection between the collision and the harm you suffered from it.
Depending on your injuries, your doctor may restrict you from specific activities or give you a treatment plan. Follow everything your doctor says, and take all prescribed medication if you feel safe doing so. If you have a problem with a specific medical treatment or medication, ask about alternatives. You want to make a full recovery and protect your right to compensation, but you also want to do what feels right to you.
File an accident claim with your insurance provider. The truck driver’s employer or insurance company may contact you. To protect your rights, do not give a written or verbal statement. You do not want your words turned against you.
Contact a Garbage Truck Accident Lawyer Today
After receiving medical attention and filing an insurance claim, reach out to an experienced lawyer at Hensley Legal Group to explore your legal options. Schedule a free case review by calling 317-472-3333.