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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Garbage collectors are vital to our everyday life. Garbage trucks transport waste from homes and businesses weekly, keeping the community clean, safe, and sanitary. This process is efficient, seamless, and safe most of the time. However, like other large commercial vehicles, garbage trucks can cause severe accidents.

A garbage truck crash can cause significant injuries, thousands of dollars in property damage, and sometimes even death. Usually, these accidents are caused by commercial vehicle driver negligence.

Did you or a loved one suffer injuries in a garbage truck accident? Our truck accident lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you recover fair financial compensation for your injuries, property damage, medical bills, and other damages you’ve incurred.

Contact a Chicago garbage truck accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) for a free consultation with our law firm to learn more about your legal options.

Chicago Garbage truck accident lawyers

How Often Do Garbage Truck Accidents Occur?

According to the most recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2017, there were:

  • 107 dump truck accident fatalities
  • More than 1,400 injuries in garbage truck accidents
  • 25% of people killed or seriously hurt were sanitation personnel

Why Are Garbage Trucks Dangerous?

Garbage trucks are more likely to be involved in an accident for several reasons, including:

  • Size and Mass: Like other large vehicles, sanitation department/private garbage trucks have an increased risk of causing severe injuries and death because of their size and mass. One of the most popular designs, the Mammoth Front Loader, weighs around 16,000 to 18,000 pounds and is about 403 to 444 inches long.
  • Operating Hours: Garbage collectors usually start their routes early in the morning while the streets are still dark. Reduced visibility increases the risk of an accident, while early schedules make drowsy driving more common among truck drivers.
  • Frequent Stops: Garbage trucks start and stop as they collect waste from multiple homes or businesses. In some accidents, vehicles driving behind garbage trucks fail to stop in time.
  • Blind Spots: Like other large commercial vehicles, garbage collection trucks have wide blind spots, making it challenging to see obstacles and other vehicles.

Common Causes of Garbage Truck Accidents

Garbage truck crashes can result from:

  • Driver Fatigue: Sanitation workers often work 10 to 14 hours a day, six days a week. This intense schedule and the physical toll of manual labor increase the risk of garbage truck drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
  • Speeding: Driving above the speed limit is one of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents. It is even more dangerous for vehicles with a high center of gravity, such as trucks, making it easy to lose control, run off the road, and collide with other cars.
  • Tailgating: Large trucks need more time to stop than other vehicles. If a truck driver tailgates and the vehicle ahead stops suddenly, the truck may collide with the car in front even if the driver brakes immediately due to the short distance between them.
  • Stopping in the Middle of the Road: Sometimes, garbage trucks stop in the middle of the road instead of pulling over to the side. This practice can be dangerous for other motorists who don’t expect a stationary truck ahead.
  • Garbage Truck Driver Inexperience: Garbage truck drivers require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate a sanitation vehicle. Waste companies must also train garbage drivers on safe driving techniques and proper procedures when pulling over and collecting garbage. The risk of accidents is higher without good driver experience and training.
  • Distracted Driving: Other motorists can easily collide with a truck, tractor-trailer, or passenger vehicle when driving while using the phone, eating, drinking, or looking at something other than the road in front of them.
  • Drunk Driving: Driving while intoxicated is another common cause of garbage truck crashes. Alcohol intoxication reduces a driver’s concentration, coordination, and ability to react quickly to dangerous situations.
  • Poor Truck Maintenance: Vehicles are more likely to cause an accident if they do not receive regular maintenance. Problems such as brake failures and tire blowouts can cause a truck to collide with other vehicles or lose control at high speeds.
  • Garbage Truck Arm Errors: Some sanitation vehicles have mechanical arms that pick up receptacles and dump waste into the garbage truck. Improper operation or a malfunctioning arm can hurt pedestrians or collide with other cars.
  • Inclement Weather: Sleet, rain, fog, snow, and other unfavorable weather conditions make the roads slippery and more dangerous. All motorists, especially garbage truck drivers, must adjust their driving behavior accordingly to avoid accidents and accidentally blowing hazardous materials onto the streets.

How Do Garbage Truck Accidents Occur?

Garbage truck accidents can occur in several ways, such as:

  • Moving Garbage Truck Collisions: Any accidents involving two or more motor vehicles in motion. Types include rear-end, front-end, and T-bone collisions.
  • Stationary Garbage Truck Collisions: These crashes occur when a vehicle drives into a truck stopped in the middle or side of the road. Rear-end collisions are most common for these accidents.
  • Pedestrian Accidents: These accidents can involve pedestrians getting run over, crushed by heavy objects from the garbage truck, or, in rare cases, hit by a truck’s arm.

Common Garbage Truck Collision Injuries

Similar to other accidents involving large vehicles, dump truck accidents can lead to severe injuries, such as:

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A TBI is caused by a significant blow to the head, causing the brain to bounce around in the skull. Common traumatic brain injuries include concussions, contusions, and brain bleeds (hemorrhaging). A TBI can cause permanent brain damage, coma, and even death, depending on its severity.
  • Neck Injuries: If you get in a truck accident while in another vehicle, the backward and forward motion of your neck can result in whiplash, a broken neck, and other neck injuries.
  • Spinal Cord Injury: Damage to the spinal cord can affect its ability to transport messages from the brain to other body parts. Severe spinal cord injuries can cause permanent paralysis.
  • Fractures: A truck accident can easily lead to broken bones as your body collides with other objects in the car. Fractures are more severe in garbage truck accident victims who were walking near the vehicle.
  • Crush Injury: This type of truck accident injury occurs when the body gets crushed between two surfaces or objects. The immense pressure on a crushed body part can damage the blood vessels and organs and cause internal bleeding.
  • Severe Lacerations and Burns: Accident victims can suffer significant cuts and burns from broken glass, twisted metal, and sudden fires.
  • Limb Loss or Amputation: A severe car accident can lead to instantaneous dismemberment or eventual amputation of a severely injured limb.

What to Do if You Get in a Truck Accident

Large truck accidents are rattling regardless of severity. Knowing what to do can help you stay level-headed if you ever find yourself in this situation:

  • Pull Over. If your car is still operable, try to pull off to the side of the road to avoid further collisions, especially if you are on a busy highway. Otherwise, turn off the engine and stay put.
  • Check For Injuries. Determine if you or your passengers have any serious injuries. Apply first aid if needed. Assist other accident victims if possible.
  • Call 911. Calling emergency services is the fastest way to report an accident and receive medical treatment. Paramedics will show up to assess everyone, and the police will also arrive to help.
  • Document The Scene. Police officers will document the accident scene to create a police report, but it also helps to perform your own documentation. Take pictures of all vehicles involved, take the information of the sanitation vehicle driver, and note essential details (time, date, exact location, etc.). Ask for the names and contact information of witnesses.
  • Go to a Doctor. Even if your injuries seem minor, go to a doctor as soon as possible. They will determine whether you are injured or not. Some injuries take days or weeks to manifest in physical symptoms; getting a check-up will ensure you receive proper treatment and an official record of your injuries.
  • Contact a Law Firm. Car accidents are not always easy to handle without legal help. Call a personal injury lawyer who can take over your garbage truck accident case to ensure you receive proper compensation.

Filing a Garbage Truck Accident Claim

You have a legal right to seek financial compensation from the trucking company whose negligence caused your injuries, trauma, and other damages. A garbage truck accident lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim to pursue damages against the driver, their employer, and other entities who may be involved in your accident.

Liability usually falls on the dump truck driver, but their employer (garbage truck company) will most likely cover them in case of an accident. Public and private companies usually have general liability insurance to help them cover the costs of accident claims.

If other drivers or pedestrians are involved, you could file claims against their auto or personal liability insurance.

To file a personal injury claim, the following must be true:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to you
  • The defendant breached this duty of care
  • The breach caused your accident
  • The accident directly led to your injuries and other damages


Garbage truck cases usually require solid evidence. Your garbage truck accident attorneys will help collect documents to prove the driver’s negligence and your injuries, such as:

  • Medical records
  • Police reports
  • Documentation of the accident scene
  • Photos of injuries
  • Witness testimonies
  • Expert testimony
  • Surveillance footage of the accident (CCTV footage)
  • Dashcam footage
  • Death certificate, in case of a wrongful death claim

Our garbage truck accident lawyers highly recommend keeping all records, receipts, and media related to your accident to prevent the loss of evidence.

Recovering Compensation

Like most auto accidents, garbage truck accident cases usually end in settlements. A settlement is an agreement wherein the defendant agrees to pay a specified amount to the plaintiff for damages caused. Settlements are generally less complex, less time-consuming, and less expensive than lawsuits.

After your truck accident attorney files a claim to the defendant’s insurance carrier, you may receive an initial settlement offer. Unfortunately, most initial offers are far less than the claims’ worth, so it is best to allow your personal injury attorney to negotiate on your behalf.

Once your garbage truck accident lawyer negotiates an agreement with the defendant’s (at-fault party) insurance company, you will receive the money, and the case will close. You can no longer sue for additional damages once you accept the payment.

However, some cases continue to trial. Litigation may occur if negotiations stall or the defendant or insurance company refuses to make a fair offer. Nevertheless, our garbage truck accident lawyers are fully prepared to help if your case requires filing a civil lawsuit.

Claimable Damages

A skilled garbage truck accident lawyer can help you recover financial compensation for the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Property damage
  • Wrongful death
  • Punitive damages

How a Chicago Garbage Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help

Legal help is often necessary for accidents involving driver negligence. Our skilled garbage truck accident attorneys can help you with the following:

  • Determine why and how the vehicle accident happened
  • Identify liable parties and determine their violations according to trucking law
  • Determine the extent of your damages after the accident occurred
  • Ensure you seek medical attention required to heal as much as possible
  • Collect solid proof to build your case
  • File a truck accident claim on your behalf
  • Negotiate settlement values
  • File a civil lawsuit, if necessary

How to Avoid Garbage Truck Accidents

The best way to avoid getting involved in an accident with a garbage truck is to follow basic traffic safety rules:

  • Obey traffic lights and signs
  • Drive at a safe speed
  • Never drive while drunk, tired, or distracted
  • Maintain a safe distance between your car and a sanitation truck or other large truck
  • Be wary of dump trucks driving through neighborhood streets, especially in the early morning hours
  • Watch out for unexpected stops when driving behind a garbage or recycling truck
  • Avoid overtaking a waste collection vehicle
  • When a garbage truck stops in front of you, watch out for a sanitation worker who may exit the vehicle

Garbage truck companies should do their part in road safety by training sanitation workers, maintaining their motor vehicles, and addressing negligence as soon as it arises.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Garbage Truck Accident Lawyer

Like other large trucks, trash trucks can cause serious injuries, massive property damage, and death. Most garbage truck accidents are caused by the negligence of drivers or their employers.

Did you or a loved one sustain injuries in a garbage truck accident? If so, the truck accident lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, can help you recover fair financial compensation for your medical bills, car repair expenses, emotional trauma, and other economic and non-economic damages.

Contact our personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.

Our garbage truck accident lawyers handle all accepted cases on a contingency fee basis. This arrangement ensures that you do not have to pay for our legal services unless we win your case.

Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

- Michonne Proulx

Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

- Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

- Giulia

This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

- Daniel Kaim

Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

- Lisa
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