Dump & Garbage Truck Accidents

By June 28, 2024Truck Accident

Dump and garbage trucks play a fundamental role in urban areas nationwide. These vehicles help maintain the cleanliness and hygiene of communities. Unfortunately, these massive vehicles also pose many dangers on our roads. The size, the structure, the maneuverability… These are just some of the hazards associated with dump and garbage trucks.

When a dump or garbage truck is involved in an accident, the parties involved may need the assistance of a truck accident attorney to investigate the root cause of the accident, identify liable parties, and guide them toward the justice and compensation they rightfully deserve.

Dump Trucks and Their Dangers on the Road

Dump Trucks and Their Dangers on the Road

Dump trucks are specialized vehicles primarily used in construction, mining, and other industries to transport loose materials such as sand, gravel, or demolition waste. These heavy-duty trucks are designed to carry and deposit large loads efficiently, often featuring a hydraulically operated open-box bed that can be tilted to unload its contents.

Their robust build and functionality make them a common sight on construction sites and various industrial applications. However, despite their utility, the sheer size and weight of dump trucks pose unique challenges and risks, particularly when they navigate through urban and suburban areas. The dangers associated with dump trucks are numerous and can be severe:

  • Size. Their massive weight and size make them difficult to maneuver, leading to a higher likelihood of rollovers, especially on uneven terrain. 
  • Blind spots. The large blind spots around these vehicles often result in accidents involving smaller cars, cyclists, and pedestrians who are not visible to the truck driver. 
  • Loads. Additionally, the heavy loads carried by dump trucks can become unstable, causing the truck to tip over or lose its load on the roadway, creating hazardous driving conditions for others. 

Given the strain these vehicles endure, brake failures, tire blowouts, and mechanical issues are also common, further increasing the risk of accidents. In summary, dump trucks’ inherent design and operational demands make them a significant hazard on both job sites and public roads.

Garbage Trucks and Their Dangers on the Road

Dump & Garbage Truck Accidents

Garbage trucks, also known as waste collection vehicles, are used for the daily removal of residential and commercial waste. These trucks are designed to collect and transport garbage to landfills, recycling centers, and waste treatment facilities. Typically equipped with hydraulic lifts to empty large dumpsters and compactors to maximize storage capacity, garbage trucks come in various types, including rear, side, and front loaders. While these trucks are crucial in maintaining public health and cleanliness, their operation is not without risks.

  • Stopping and starting. Garbage trucks make frequent stops and starts in residential neighborhoods, combined with their substantial size and weight, which makes them a unique presence on the road. The constant stopping and starting can lead to rear-end collisions from inattentive drivers. 
  • Lifting. The mechanical arms and lifting devices on these trucks pose risks of crushing injuries to workers and bystanders if not properly operated or maintained. 
  • Noise. The noise generated by garbage trucks can also be a factor, potentially masking the sound of approaching vehicles or pedestrians, leading to accidents. 
  • Blind spots. Like dump trucks, garbage trucks have large blind spots, making it difficult for drivers to see smaller vehicles, cyclists, or pedestrians nearby. 

These factors combined make garbage trucks a potential source of serious accidents and injuries.

How Do Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents Occur?

Accidents involving dump and garbage trucks have become a growing concern for all road users. Statistically speaking, these massive vehicles cause a total of over 5,500 crashes with injuries per year. In most cases, these crashes are preventable as one or a combination of factors contributing to their occurrence. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of accidents involving dump and garbage trucks.

Improper Driver Training

Operating these massive vehicles requires specialized knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, some drivers do not receive adequate training, leading to dangerous situations on the road. For instance, a driver not properly trained to maneuver tight turns or reverse safely may cause catastrophic accidents in residential areas.

  • Example: A garbage truck collides with parked cars while attempting to reverse down a narrow street, resulting in severe property damage and potential injuries.

Equipment Error

Equipment errors are another common cause of accidents involving dump and garbage trucks. These large vehicles have complex machinery that must function correctly to ensure operational safety. Faulty brakes, malfunctioning hydraulics, or defective steering systems can lead to disastrous outcomes. Regular maintenance checks and prompt repairs are crucial to prevent equipment-related accidents.

  • Example: A dump truck with faulty brakes might fail to stop at a red light, causing a multi-vehicle collision at an intersection

Improper Loading or Unloading

Improper loading or unloading of materials can increase the risk of accidents. Dump and garbage trucks carry heavy loads that must be evenly distributed to maintain vehicle stability. If a load shifts or spills during transportation, it can lead to loss of control and accidents.

  • Example: A dump truck’s load of gravel spills onto a busy highway, creating hazardous driving conditions and causing multiple vehicles to swerve and crash. 

Poor Vehicle Maintenance

Poor vehicle maintenance is a critical factor contributing to dump and garbage truck accidents. Neglecting routine checks and ignoring necessary repairs can lead to mechanical failures on the road. Regular maintenance is necessary to ensure these vehicles operate safely.

  • Example: A garbage truck with worn-out tires may experience a blowout while traveling at high speed, resulting in a rollover accident. 

Driver Fatigue

Driver fatigue is a major concern in the trucking industry, and it can be particularly hazardous for dump and garbage truck operators. Long hours, demanding routes, and early morning or late-night shifts contribute to driver fatigue, impairing reaction times and decision-making abilities.

  • Example: A fatigued driver falls asleep at the wheel, causing the garbage truck to veer off the road and crash into a pedestrian walkway. 

Inattentive Driving

Inattentive driving, often caused by distractions or lack of focus, is a leading cause of accidents involving dump and garbage trucks. These vehicles require constant attention to navigate safely through various environments. Distracted driving, such as using a mobile phone or eating while driving, can result in severe accidents.

  • Example: A distracted garbage truck driver might fail to notice a stopped school bus, leading to a rear-end collision that endangers the lives of children. 

Speeding and Reckless Driving

Speeding is a factor in about 30 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States. Speeding and reckless driving behaviors are dangerous for any vehicle, but their impact is magnified when it comes to dump and garbage trucks. These heavy trucks have longer stopping distances and are harder to maneuver at high speeds. Reckless driving, such as aggressive lane changes or tailgating, can lead to catastrophic outcomes.

  • Example: A speeding dump truck loses control on a wet road, colliding with multiple vehicles and causing injuries and extensive damage to others. 

Who Is Liable When a Dump or Garbage Truck Accident Occurs?

Who Is Liable When a Dump or Garbage Truck Accident Occurs

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a garbage or dump truck accident, you may have many questions but few answers. One of those questions is, “How can I get compensated for my damages and losses?” To answer this question, you must first understand who is responsible for the accident. Some of the potentially liable parties may include:

  • The dump or garbage truck driver. The driver is one of the first and most obvious parties investigated in any truck accident. If the driver’s negligence or reckless behavior led to the accident, they can be held liable. Dump and garbage truck drivers are responsible for operating their vehicles safely and within the law. When they fail to do so, they may face liability if their actions result in harm to others.
  • A waste management employee or company. Waste management companies are responsible for ensuring their operations are conducted safely and in compliance with applicable standards. The company can be held accountable if an employee other than the driver contributes to an accident through negligence. Under the legal doctrine called “respondeat superior,” an employer can be held liable for the actions of its employees if those actions occur within the scope of their employment.
  • The driver’s employer. The driver’s employer might also be held liable under the principle of vicarious liability (the same as respondeat superior, just a different term). This legal concept holds an employer responsible for an employee’s actions when those actions are performed within the course of their job duties. Employers must ensure that their drivers are adequately trained and fit for duty. Failure to perform background checks, provide proper training, or enforce safety protocols can make the employer directly liable.
  • The owner of the truck. The truck owner, whether an individual or a company, is responsible for maintaining the vehicle and ensuring it is safe for operation. For example, liability can arise if the owner ignores necessary repairs or regular maintenance or allows unqualified or unlicensed individuals to operate the truck. 
  • The trucking company. The trucking company might be different from the employer or the truck owner. Trucking companies must ensure their fleets are safe and their operations comply with federal and state regulations. Establishing the trucking company’s liability can be challenging but crucial for victims seeking compensation, as these companies often have more insurance coverage.
  • The party responsible for truck maintenance. If maintenance and repairs are outsourced to a third-party contractor, that entity can also be held liable if their work is substandard or if they fail to identify and fix potential issues. Establishing the liability of maintenance contractors often requires meticulous investigation and expert analysis of maintenance records and repair histories.

You may need assistance from a truck accident attorney to investigate how the crash happened and who is to blame.

Do You Need a Truck Accident Attorney if You Have Been Involved in a Dump or Garbage Truck Crash?

Do You Need a Truck Accident Attorney if You Have Been Involved in a Dump or Garbage Truck Crash

If you or someone you love has been involved in a collision with a dump or garbage truck, you may fear that you won’t be able to afford an attorney. First of all, most truck accident lawyers handle cases on a contingency fee basis (you pay nothing unless they win) and, second of all, having legal counsel has many advantages, such as:

  • Navigate the laws. Dump trucks and garbage trucks are subject to different regulations, including size and weight limit laws. They often operate under municipal contracts or private companies, each bound by specific safety standards and operational guidelines. These complexities make legal claims involving these trucks much more complicated. A skilled lawyer will be well-versed in these regulations and can identify any violations that can be pivotal to your case.
  • Identify liable parties. Multiple entities can be held responsible in an accident involving a dump or garbage truck. A truck accident attorney’s experience can be crucial in conducting a thorough investigation to determine all parties accountable for the accident. This comprehensive approach ensures you can pursue compensation from all potential sources, maximizing your chances of receiving a fair settlement.
  • Gather and preserve evidence. In truck accident cases, evidence can be particularly intricate and varied. It may include driver logs, maintenance records, eyewitness testimonies, and expert analyses of the accident scene. An experienced attorney will know how to gather, preserve, and present this evidence. They can issue subpoenas for essential records and take the necessary steps to ensure no crucial evidence is overlooked. 
  • Navigating legal procedures and deadlines. When pursuing compensation, you must adhere to strict deadlines, known as statutes of limitations, which vary from state to state. Missing a filing deadline or failing to follow procedural rules can jeopardize your claim. Having a knowledgeable attorney by your side means you have someone who understands these procedures and can advocate for your best interests at every step.

The aftermath of a truck accident can be emotionally draining. Dealing with physical recovery, financial strain, and the complexities of a legal case can be overwhelming. Having a reputable personal injury law firm in Atlanta allows you to focus on your recovery while they handle the legal intricacies. They can provide legal advice and emotional support, guiding you through each stage of the process with empathy and professionalism.