Dump and garbage trucks are among the most dangerous vehicles on the road. Even though these trucks do not weigh as much as a fully loaded tractor-trailer, they are still very heavy. Then, the cargo is not always fully secured, increasing the possibility of injury to passersby.
To make matters worse, there is a national shortage of garbage truck drivers. Even though many garbage truck drivers are well-paid, sanitation departments and hauling contractors cannot find enough employees to operate their trucks.
Traditional trucking companies compete in the market for drivers, often hiring away people who no longer wish to drive garbage trucks. Today’s garbage truck drivers lack experience.
You may deserve substantial compensation if you or a loved one have suffered an injury in a garbage truck or dump truck accident. First, you need to contact an experienced truck accident attorney who will work for you to obtain compensation for your injuries. Legal help will make the complex legal process far less of a burden.
Garbage Truck Injury Statistics
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 107 people died in garbage truck accidents in a recent year, and an additional 1,400 people suffered injuries.
Most of the fatalities were other drivers (25 of the 107 fatalities were garbage truck drivers). Last year, Recycling Today reported 17 garbage truck fatalities in the first 19 days of the year.
While you might not consider garbage truck crashes as common events, they happen more often than you likely think. When you least expect it, you can suffer injuries due to a negligent garbage truck driver.
Dump Truck Injury Statistics
Dump truck crashes are more common than garbage truck accidents:
- According to the National Safety Council, more than 5,000 injury-causing crashes involved dump trucks in one recent year.
- Dump truck accidents comprise roughly 10 percent of all truck accidents.
- Dump trucks are in 8 percent of fatal road accidents.
There are over 30,000 dump truck businesses in the United States. Some of these businesses are cutting corners in every place that they can to try to make money. Dump truck businesses often bid low to get work from contractors, and then they have to figure out how to make money within the terms of their existing contract.
Garbage Hauling Is Often a Contract Position
Municipalities and governmental entities do not always want to bear the costs of having full sanitation departments. Then, cities need additional workers on their payroll and face potential liability if there is an accident.
Private waste hauling is a highly lucrative business. Contractors make large sums of money on their contracts with governmental entities, and sometimes they may receive a performance award for meeting certain metrics. Whatever the contractor does not spend on costs, they keep as their profit.
Thus, garbage haulers are often financially incentivized to cut corners on contracts. They may hire drivers with fewer skills because they cost less. The garbage hauler may not properly maintain the garbage truck because they need to keep it on the road.
Private garbage haulers also have another reason why they may be unsafe. The individual haulers are often under pressure from their supervisors, urging them to remain on schedule. The government receives many complaints from citizens about late garbage pickups. The company may not be awarded a new contract because of bad past performance. Therefore, the primary metric that the contractor may try to meet is timeliness.
One illustration of the safety problem posed by private garbage contractors is that these trucks caused seven fatalities in New York City in one year. At that point, the New York City Sanitation Department had not reported an accident with any fatalities in four years. This is only one example of a rise in accidents, as these events happen from coast to coast in the U.S.
Who Might Suffer Injuries in Garbage Truck Accidents?
Many people may suffer injuries in a garbage truck accident, including:
- Motorists, their passengers, and bystanders when debris falls from the garbage truck
- Motorists and their passengers when they are involved in a crash with the garbage truck
- Sanitation truck workers who suffer an injury in a crash where another driver is at fault
By far, motorists are the most at risk. Garbage trucks weigh about 33,000 pounds when they are empty. Once they have full loads after their pickups, the weight of the garbage truck can increase to 51,000 pounds. The garbage truck can weigh even more if the garbage is wet and waterlogged. The driver can be severely hurt if the garbage truck is speeding or strikes the car at a difficult angle.
Similarly, the construction company does not always own and drive dump trucks. They may also outsource the hauling work, hiring a truck and driver fleet subcontractor. The subcontractor has their profit motive, and they may emphasize time over safety. They know that the less they spend, the more they can make off their contract.
Drivers are often in unfamiliar areas, operating their trucks in challenging conditions. They can be at a construction site for the first time and unfamiliar with the dangerous spots.
Dump trucks present their unique dangers.
Some of the hazards of dump trucks include:
- A dump truck can run over a construction worker at the job site
- The center of gravity on the dump truck may be skewed, causing the dump truck to tip over
- The debris from the back of the dump truck can fall out of the truck and strike a car or cause an accident on the road
- The dump truck driver can cause a traffic accident on the road by running into another vehicle
- The dump truck driver is inexperienced and makes a mistake
Potential Defendants in a Dump Truck Lawsuit
The trucking company is the most likely defendant in a dump truck lawsuit. The contractor may have hired the trucking company to bring supplies to the construction site and haul the debris away.
The trucking company must pay for the negligent acts of its drivers when they are on the job. You always want to find a corporate defendant to sue because they have more insurance coverage and the assets necessary to pay a judgment.
You can hold the construction site contractor liable for your injuries. The dump truck may have belonged to them, and it was their driver behind the wheel. In that case, you may sue them.
The contractor can also be liable if they negligently hired or retained the subcontractor. A contractor must perform a reasonable investigation into the contractors that it hires. If there are safety concerns, the contractor should not hire the subcontractor. If a subcontractor is on the job, and the contractor learns that they present an unreasonable safety risk, the contractor should terminate them. Negligent hiring and retention is the way that you can still sue a trucking company.
Potential Defendants in a Garbage Truck Accident
If you are suing for garbage truck injuries, you need to know who was responsible for the crash. Some municipalities will engage an independent hauling company to make trash pickups. If so, you can file a lawsuit against the contractor, following the usual legal procedures. There will be no limits on the damages you can recover in the lawsuit.
Different rules will apply to the lawsuit if the garbage truck belongs to a governmental entity. Depending on the state and the relevant law, you must notify the government before you file the claim.
In addition, state law may limit how much you can recover from the government. Finally, the government will not pay punitive damages if your case goes to trial. If the government denies your claim, you can file a truck accident lawsuit in court.
Garbage truck drivers often suffer injuries in crashes. The same legal principles hold no matter who caused the accident. If you suffered an injury while driving a garbage truck, and an individual driver caused the accident, they should pay for your damages.
Your Damages in a Garbage of Dump Truck Accident Lawsuit
The responsible party should have a large insurance policy to pay for the harm that their truck driver caused to you or your loved one. You can hold the company liable for the acts of their employee so long as the accident happened within the scope of their job. If the insurance coverage won’t cover your losses, the company should pay you out of their assets.
You may receive the following compensation in your case:
- The complete cost of your medical care
- Caregiving that you may need for daily activities
- Lost income for time missed from work or a reduction in your earning capacity
- Pain and suffering for the physical and emotional discomfort that you are enduring
- Loss of enjoyment of life that you had before the accident
- Emotional distress from the accident
If your loved one died in the accident, your family can file a wrongful death claim to seek payment for what you lost when the truck driver’s actions took your family member from you.
Your damages can be considerable in any truck accident. In any case, you will need the help of an experienced lawyer to represent you throughout your case. The insurance company will try to minimize your injuries and make it difficult for you to get what you deserve. Your lawyer may need to fight to prove that the truck driver was responsible for your injuries.
Then, your lawyer must fight for you to receive the damages you deserve. You may need to go through extensive negotiations to reach the right agreement. You do not need to accept a settlement offer that pays you less than you deserve. Your lawyer can advise you to reject a low settlement offer and demand more money for you.
Private haulers, whether operating dump trucks or garbage trucks, know they can face heavy financial consequences if a jury gets their case. They know you can seek punitive damages if the jury sees they employed a grossly negligent driver with a blatant pattern of ignoring safety law.
Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney in Bakersfield is the best way to maximize financial compensation and protect your legal rights following a truck accident. Don’t delay in seeking a free consultation today.