Garbage Truck Accident
Garbage trucks are a necessity to maintain sanitation in any area. These vehicles perform a critical function. When we discuss the dangers of sanitation vehicles, by no means do we mean to suggest that they should not be on the road.
However, we cannot overlook the fact that these sanitation agencies and commercial waste haulers who operate these trucks may have checkered safety records.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a garbage truck crash, you may be eligible for financial compensation if you act quickly. The Chicago, Illinois truck accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you.
Sanitation Employees Are Being Worked Far Harder
While municipal garbage workers have some labor protections, they are being asked to work far more overtime these days. The labor shortage has cities pushing their existing workforce even harder.
From the driver's perspective, it could mean longer shifts. Drivers already start early in the morning, at a time when they may be fatigued.
The problem is far worse with commercial waste hauling companies. These drivers are being forced to work punishing hours. It is not uncommon for these crews to be forced to work 60-70 hour workweeks. The end result is drivers are falling asleep behind the wheel, and the quality of their driving suffers.
Garbage Truck Accident Statistics
The number of people being injured in garbage and sanitation truck accidents has been increasing in recent years. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were over 1,400 people who were injured in sanitation truck crashes in 2017. There were over 100 fatalities in these accidents.
The problem has been made worse in recent years because there are both garbage and recycling trucks out on the road. This means two sets of large trucks making pickups on the side of the street.
In addition, the amount of commercial waste hauling activity has also increased, meaning that there are more of these large vehicles on the road too.
Common Causes of Garbage Truck Crashes
There are a number of reasons why sanitation trucks may be more likely to be involved in an accident:
- They are out early in the morning, when there are more drivers on the road who are getting to work or driving their kids to school
- Garbage trucks are often out in the early morning hours when it is still dark outside
- Sanitation truck drivers are constantly pulling over to the side of the street to make pickups, moving in and out of traffic frequently
- Drivers may cut corners to try to save time by not fully pulling over to the side of the road
Debris Falling From Garbage Trucks
Sanitation workers do not always manage to get the garbage fully inside the truck. Each sanitation truck is equipped with a compactor that is intended to press the garbage into the truck and keep it from flying out onto the roadway.
However, sanitation workers do not always exercise the proper level of care, or the truck may not work as intended to keep debris off the roadway.
Longer haul garbage trucks have even more risk of losing debris that flies out of the truck. Some drivers may suffer serious injuries when garbage flies out of the truck and hits their car, especially when it strikes their windshield.
Why Garbage Truck Accidents Are Serious
No matter what happened, there is almost no such thing as a minor garbage truck accident. Some motorists are very fortunate to only suffer minor injuries when they are hit by a large sanitation truck. What motorists have going in their favor is that garbage trucks are not traveling that fast when the accident occurs.
However, a sanitation vehicle is very large. The amount of weight depends on the type of vehicle involved in the accident. Long-haul garbage trucks are by far the most dangerous.
These trucks have the same weight limits as other large commercial trucks, meaning that they can weigh up to 80,000 pounds.
Even city sanitation trucks will far outweigh the passenger vehicles that they hit. The average garbage truck can weigh 33,000 pounds when it is empty. Many of these trucks have hauling capacities of nine tons or more. It is not uncommon for sanitation vehicles to weigh up to 60,000 pounds.
Compare that to the average passenger vehicle that weighs roughly 3,000 pounds. The massive size disparity means that a person who is driving or sitting in a car is in serious jeopardy in a garbage truck crash.
Injuries in Sanitation Truck Accidents
Motorists and their passengers who have been involved in sanitation truck accidents can suffer the following injuries:
- Broken bones and fractures
- Cuts and lacerations
- Internal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Accident victims must get prompt medical attention. If they have not been treated at the scene and received immediate care, they should see a doctor in the days after the injury to get a full diagnosis.
Sanitation Workers Can Also Sue
Motorists are not the only ones who are hurt in garbage truck mishaps. Roughly one-quarter of the fatalities in garbage truck accidents are sanitation workers.
To be clear, a sanitation worker cannot file a lawsuit when they were injured in an accident caused by the driver of the truck on which they worked. They cannot sue a fellow employee, and they cannot file a legal action against their employer based on what a fellow employee did.
However, a leading cause of injury among sanitation workers is when they are hit by other drivers. Garbage truck workers are getting on and off the truck to pick up trash, and they may be struck in this process. Then, they can sue the driver who struck them.
How to Get Compensation for a Garbage Truck Accident
Depending on who owns the garbage truck, there may be some special rules involved in filing lawsuits. Depending on the location, some municipalities and county governments have deals with third-party trash haulers whereby they outsource trash collection.
If you have been injured in a collision with a third-party trash hauler, the rules are far more straightforward. These lawsuits would have the same rules as any other truck accident case.
Your truck accident lawyer would file a lawsuit against the third-party company. First, you may begin by filing a claim against their truck insurance policy. Every hauling company will have insurance coverage because their large vehicles can cause serious injuries that will otherwise cost them a lot of money.
Accidents With City Garbage Trucks
There are different rules that apply when you have been injured in an accident with a sanitation truck that is owned and operated by a municipality. In every state, there is a different procedure that must be followed when you are suing the government.
To be clear, the government can be sued in a negligence lawsuit. Even though the government has some forms of sovereign immunity, they do not extend to situations where its employers are negligent in performing some of their daily duties, such as:
- Driving municipal buses
- Collecting trash
- Maintaining city sidewalks
- Removing snow and ice
However, you must be very careful to follow the right procedure, or you may not be able to recover financial compensation at all.
Suing the Government for Garbage Truck Injuries
The major rule to follow for any rule against a government agency is that you must notify them of your claim within a period of time that is far shorter than the usual statute of limitations in a personal injury lawsuit.
For example, if you are suing the City of Chicago, you must give them notice of the claim within one year of your injury. Many municipalities will also have caps on the amount of damages that you can get in a lawsuit.
Government lawyers can be every bit as difficult as insurance agencies when it comes to settling claims. The money can come out of the public budget, and agencies are very protective of their own money.
Compensation for Sanitation Truck Accidents
When you or a loved one have been injured in a garbage truck crash, you may be entitled to the following damages:
- The complete cost of your medical bills
- Property damage to your vehicle
- Lost wages for time missed from work or a reduction in your earnings capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Families whose loved one was killed in an accident are eligible for wrongful death damages
Contact Our Legal Team for a Free Legal Consultation
One of the first things that you need to do after being involved in a crash with a garbage truck is search for a lawyer who can handle your case.
The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have helped clients when they have been injured in motor vehicle crashes, no matter the type of car or truck that has caused your damages. The common theme is that we fight hard for our clients to receive full financial compensation for their injuries.
To schedule your free initial consultation and learn more details about your legal case, call us today at (888) 424-5757 or contact us online
Further reading on garbage truck accidents and safety statistics for general informational purposes: