Ask someone to picture a truck accident in their mind, and they’ll usually think of a tractor-trailer. Few people conjure images of dump trucks and garbage trucks getting into crashes. Most would be surprised to learn that accidents involving dump and garbage trucks happen with far more frequency than they might imagine. Like other truck accidents, they can result in widespread property destruction and severe, even fatal, injuries.
Common Dump and Garbage Truck AccidentsNumerous features of garbage trucks and dump trucks make them prone to potentially deadly accidents. To begin, although they don’t pull the kinds of trailers that can cause problems for highway truckers, garbage and dump trucks do carry lots of heavy, loose material that can shift and result in a loss of control. If spilled, that cargo can also trigger accidents involving other vehicles. Dump and garbage trucks also feature large, irregularly-shaped blind spots, have relatively high centers of gravity (especially garbage trucks), and need lots of room to stop and maneuver safely. Dump trucks commonly operate on rough road surfaces. Garbage trucks frequently drive on narrow neighborhood streets. These features, too, pose a danger to other motorists, especially if a truck’s driver is tired or lacks experience handling a large, heavy, unwieldy vehicle in less-than-ideal driving conditions. Finally, dump trucks and garbage trucks tend to take a lot of abuse. Dump trucks load and unload heavy cargo repeatedly. Garbage trucks stop and start hundreds of times throughout a single pick-up route. The wear-and-tear on these trucks takes a toll on truck components, systems, and parts. Common accidents resulting from these characteristics of dump trucks and garbage trucks include:
- Collisions with other vehicles on slick or narrow roads;
- Rolling over and/or spilling cargo on winding or rough roads;
- Colliding with vehicles in the truck’s blind spot;
- Driver fatigue
- Driving under the influence
- Failing to navigate turns safely; and
- Mechanical or electrical failure due to overuse and/or poor maintenance.
Seeking Compensation for a Dump or Garbage Truck AccidentVictims of dump truck and garbage truck accidents caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness deserve compensation for injuries and losses they suffer. Lawyers for those victims often initially focus their efforts on establishing liability (who owes victims compensation for the accident?) and damages (how much should the victims receive?).
Dump and Garbage Truck Accident LiabilityIn a general sense, anyone whose poor decisions or dangerous actions contribute to the cause of a truck accident, and anyone who has a legal obligation to answer for those decisions or actions, can face liability to accident victims for damages. Identifying who might owe damages for an accident involving a dump truck or garbage truck can pose challenges for lawyers for accident victims, because of the ways those trucks are owned and operated. In any given dump truck or garbage truck accident case, parties who owe damages could include:
- The truck driver;
- The truck driver’s employer;
- The truck’s owner (if different from the driver’s employer);
- The owner of the truck’s cargo (in the case of dump trucks);
- A municipal agency (for example, a city sanitation department that operates garbage trucks);
- Other motorists whose actions while driving near dump trucks or garbage trucks cause accidents.
Damages for Dump Truck and Garbage Truck AccidentsIn a legal action seeking compensation for injuries and losses sustained in a dump or garbage truck accident, victims may have the ability to recover two broad categories of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages. Also called special damages, compensate victims for monetary losses caused by a truck accident, such as:
- Past and future medical expenses related to treating accident injuries;
- Lost wages and lost future income resulting from missing work because of accident injuries, or because of disabilities that keep the victim out of work long-term;
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property; and
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses, in the event of a fatal accident.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress;
- Loss of companionship or consortium;
- Loss of quality of life;
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a finger or hand;
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight;
- Amputation; and
- Scarring and disfigurement.