You might not think of the truck that comes and collects your garbage every week as particularly dangerous. They are slow and cumbersome to navigate around, but do they really pose a threat?
Many people underestimate the risks of garbage trucks. In 2017, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported 107 fatalities connected to garbage trucks, with an additional 1,400 injuries.
Garbage trucks are dangerous for several reasons – they are heavy, they don’t turn easily, they have large blind spots, and they have to back up frequently. They pose a particular danger to pedestrians and children because of these elements. Though these vehicles and their operators perform an essential service, their poor visibility and handling pose a real threat to residents of southern California.
A garbage truck can weigh as much as 50 tons fully loaded. They often weave in and out of traffic, which makes their movement more unpredictable. These erratic movements pose a danger to those who use the shoulder (i.e. bike lanes, pedestrians) as well as those who are small enough to fit completely into a garbage truck’s blind spot (motorcyclists, drivers of smaller motor vehicles).
Garbage trucks recently made headlines when an investigative journalist followed a private trash collection company based in New York. The company had installed cameras in their trucks, which showed drivers falling asleep while operating vehicles. Despite this, the crews were on the road up to 14 hours a day, six days per week.
When a person sustains injuries as the result of a garbage truck accident, they may be able to file a personal injury claim or wrongful death suit as compensation. A personal injury claim helps a victim of negligence pay for incurred medical costs, compensate for lost wages, and helps alleviate the financial stresses of recovering from an accident.
The first step in filing a garbage truck accident claim is determining the responsible party. Like semi-truck and heavy tractor trailers, operators and managers of garbage trucks must adhere to federal regulations set forth by the FMCSA. These comprehensive rules establish standards that all companies, drivers, and employees must adhere to. Violation of these rules often determine who is responsible for a garbage truck accident.
In garbage truck accidents, one or more parties may be responsible for the injuries a person incurs. A few of the possible responsible parties include:
- The operator of the garbage truck. While the operator may cause the accident, liability often falls with the company who employs them. Examples include negligent hiring or failure to properly monitor employees.
- Municipal governments. Trash pick up services may be through private entities or through the local government. In the latter case, swift action is essential. Claims against the government feature shorter statutes of limitation and very specific filing processes. If you or a loved one suffered injuries from a municipally operated garbage truck, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your options as soon as possible.
- The manufacturer of the truck or its component parts. In some cases, a truck may malfunction because a hydraulic arm gets stuck or a tire blows out, leading to another person’s injury. In this case, it is possible that the manufacturer of these parts is liable for any damages that result.