Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents: What You Need to Know

Nov 24, 2023 | Right Path Law Group
Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents: What You Need to Know

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately 1,400 dump and garbage truck-related accidents result in about 100 fatalities every year.

Injuries for victims can be severe and life-altering, with many requiring long-term medical care and rehabilitation. Furthermore, these accidents can also cause significant property damage and financial loss, devastatingly impacting individuals and their families.

By understanding your rights when involved in a dump or garbage truck accident, you can ensure that you receive the necessary compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses. Seek the guidance of a truck accident attorney promptly following the accident.

Garbage and Dump Truck Accidents: Facts and the Law

Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents

No matter the speed of the vehicle, dump and garbage truck accidents can be catastrophic due to their massive size and weight. These trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, making them difficult to maneuver and stop promptly.

Moreover, these trucks often have large blind spots that hinder the driver’s visibility, increasing the risk of collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians.

Considering that most of these vehicles operate in narrow residential neighborhoods and busy commercial areas, the potential for accidents is high regardless of where you are in the city.

Personal injury claims involving motorist accidents have a two-year statute of limitation in Virginia. But, when it comes to vehicles owned by the city, state, or country, the time frame to file a claim is typically shorter. Failure to adhere to these strict deadlines can result in losing your legal rights and ability to seek compensation for your damages.

Sometimes, the city or state may try to avoid liability by claiming sovereign immunity, which shields them from lawsuits unless certain conditions are met.

However, it’s important to note that this protection is not absolute and can be waived under certain circumstances. You can better understand the laws and regulations that may affect your case by contacting a dump and garbage truck accident lawyer right after the incident.

If your claim is deemed viable, a truck accident lawyer can gather evidence and build a solid case to support your claim for economic and non-economic damages.

Primary Causes of Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents

Driver Fatigue

Early hours, long shifts, and tight deadlines can cause drivers to become drowsy and fatigued while behind the wheel, leading to impaired judgment, slower reaction times, and potentially fatal accidents.

Studies show that driver fatigue is a leading cause of dump and garbage truck accidents, occurring as a primary factor in over 30% of cases. While steps have been taken over the past two decades to combat driver fatigue with regulations on hours of service and mandatory rest breaks, it remains a prevalent issue in the industry with life-threatening consequences.

Impaired Driver

Whether from narcotics, alcohol, prescription medication, or other substances, impaired drivers pose a significant threat to others on the road. This includes dump and garbage truck operators under the influence while operating their vehicles. Impaired driving can affect vision, reaction time, and judgment, making it difficult for drivers to operate trucks safely.

Impairment from drugs or alcohol typically occurs in higher frequency with light trucks, such as collection trucks, when compared to heavy-duty trucks due to the nature of their work. However, regardless of the truck’s size, impairment can have devastating consequences for all involved.

Distracted Driver

It’s no secret that distracted drivers are a major hazard on the road. With the rise of technology, distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, and changing music have become all too common behind the wheel. These distractions can be even more hazardous for dump and garbage truck drivers, who often have to multitask while driving.

In addition to distracted driving from technology, other factors such as eating, grooming, and reading can also divert a driver’s attention from the road, increasing the risk of accidents.

Speeding and Reckless Driving

Dump and garbage truck drivers are often under pressure to meet tight deadlines for waste collection or construction projects, leading to speeding and reckless driving. According to the FMCSA, the maximum speed limit for commercial vehicles in urban areas is 55 miles per hour, but many drivers may exceed this limit to complete their tasks on time.

Additionally, reckless driving behaviors such as tailgating, sudden lane changes, and failure to use turn signals can contribute to accidents involving dump and garbage trucks. Reckless behaviors also include garbage trucks driving in areas where they legally cannot, such as bridges or other structures not designed to withstand their weight.

Equipment Failure

Dump and garbage trucks are prone to equipment failure like any other vehicle. Brakes, tires, and steering systems can all malfunction, leading to accidents that result in serious injuries or fatalities.

Regular maintenance and inspections are necessary (and legally required) to ensure the safe operation of these vehicles. Still, negligence or inadequate upkeep can lead to catastrophic accidents that require legal action to provide compensation for victims.

What to Do After a Dump or Garbage Truck Accident

It is common for paramedics to arrive on the scene after an accident to ensure everyone’s health. However, you should still check in with your doctor within 72 hours of the accident to document any injuries or symptoms that may have arisen after the initial shock of the incident has faded.

If the accident has resulted in severe injuries or fatalities, it is essential to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after seeking medical care. Waiting too long to reach out can not only put you outside of the legal time frame to file a claim, but it can also affect the strength of your case if the evidence is not properly gathered and preserved.

Throughout the process, document everything from the accident scene to your medical appointments to any communication with the city or insurance companies. This will ensure you have a complete record of events and can accurately present your case.

Avoid signing any documents or speaking with the city or insurance representatives without first consulting with a lawyer. They may try to downplay the accident’s severity or offer a low settlement amount – common tactics to ensure you receive less compensation than you may deserve for medical bills and other damages.

What Injuries Happen in Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents?

What Injuries Happen in Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents

Any collision can create serious injuries, but due to the size and weight of dump and garbage trucks, accidents involving these vehicles can result in particularly severe injuries.

Some common injuries that occur in these types of accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Internal organ damage
  • Neck and back injuries
  • Death

In addition to physical harm or fatality, mental and emotional trauma can also result from these accidents, such as:

This emotional impact can have long-lasting effects on an individual’s ability to work, maintain relationships, and live a fulfilling life. These intangible damages may also be factored into personal injury lawsuits, ensuring victims have the potential for full compensation that leads to a better quality of life.

How Much Do Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents Cost?

The total damages and costs associated with a dump or garbage truck accident can vary greatly depending on the severity of injuries, property damage, and other factors.

Victims in these accidents may be able to claim economic, non-economic, and, in some cases, punitive damages from:

  • Paramedic and ambulance costs. The average ambulance ride can cost accident victims close to $350, with an additional $20 per mile traveled from the accident to the hospital. This figure can increase to the thousands, depending on the severity of injuries treated.
  • Medical bills. The average cost of an ER visit in many cities is over $1,500, and more serious injuries may require ongoing medical treatment or rehabilitation that can cost as much as $4,000 per day for inpatient treatment.
  • Lost wages. Severe injuries that can take months or years to heal result in missed work and lost income. This can significantly damage a household’s financial stability.
  • Medical Devices. From wheelchairs to prosthetics, the cost of medical devices can add up quickly. For example, a spinal cord injury may require the use of a wheelchair that costs upwards of $20,000.
  • Pain and suffering. Non-economic damages include compensation for emotional distress, loss of earning capacity, and pain and suffering. These damages are more difficult to quantify but are generally related to treatment costs and the severity and impact of injuries on the victim’s life.
  • Punitive damages. In cases involving gross negligence or malicious intent, punitive damages may be awarded as a form of punishment for the responsible party and to deter similar actions in the future. In Virginia, punitive damages cannot exceed $350,000.

In essence, the total cost of a dump or garbage truck accident can quickly add up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, making it crucial for victims to seek legal advice to better understand how to protect their rights, interests, and future well-being.

FAQ: Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents

1. Where do most garbage truck accidents occur?

Garbage truck accidents can occur anywhere but often happen in busy areas or on highways. Some common locations for these accidents include residential neighborhoods, commercial areas with high traffic, and major roads.

2. What is sovereign immunity, and how does it affect dump and garbage truck accidents?

Sovereign immunity refers to the legal principle that government entities are immune from civil lawsuits. In Virginia, it can still present challenges for victims seeking compensation from a government-owned dump or garbage truck operator. You will need a lawyer to tackle any cases against state or local governments.

3. Can I sue for wrongful death in a dump or garbage truck accident?

Yes, if a loved one has died as a result of a dump or garbage truck accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. This can help cover funeral expenses, loss of income, and other damages related to losing your loved one.

4. Will an insurance company protect my rights after a dump or garbage truck accident?

Insurance companies are businesses and will prioritize their own interests, which may not align with yours. Therefore, before speaking with any insurance representatives, it is important to consult with a lawyer who can help you understand your rights and options.

Don’t Let a Dump or Garbage Truck Accident Control Your Life

Pierre Prialé, Truck Accident Lawyer
Pierre Priale, Truck Accident Attorney in Fairfax

Dump and garbage truck accidents are catastrophic, causing physical injuries, emotional trauma, and financial strain. The stress of navigating the complex claims and legal processes needed to ensure your future remains secure can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to go through it alone.

Seek guidance from a Fairfax personal injury lawyer  for the legal and emotional support needed to help you protect your future from the devastating effects of these accidents. With personal injury firms near you offering a free case review online or by phone, getting the help you need is only a click or call away.