Speedy, efficient, and thorough garbage pickup is absolutely necessary in a city as packed and busy as New York, but only if done safely. Garbage trucks are heavy, powerful vehicles that can cause serious damage in an auto accident, and they are even more dangerous if a pedestrian is involved. Given how many New Yorkers walk to and from work or jog for exercise, drivers should be keenly aware of everyone around them at all times. Otherwise, the everyday jogger could be severely injured in an accident.
Why Are Garbage Trucks Dangerous?
In order to transport massive amounts of trash multiple times a week, New York garbage trucks are designed to work under extreme weights and road conditions. These vehicles can weigh up to 33,000 lbs. when empty and up to 55,000 lbs. when fully loaded. As such, drivers should be fully trained to keep total control over these vehicles, especially during adverse weather conditions like snow and rain. If not, they can easily cause a catastrophic garbage truck accident.
While these vehicles are dangerous to other drivers, they can cause severe trauma if they strike a pedestrian. Simply put, it is a matter of size. Even at low-speeds, a garbage truck can knock a walker or jogger against the pavement and cause near-fatal injuries, like brain injuries or spinal cord damage. This is why pedestrian accidents are so deadly: there is almost no situation where a pedestrian walks away from a collision without a serious medical condition.
One of the issues surrounding these vehicles is their field of view. Drivers are often raised higher off the ground compared to other vehicles and are very similar to semi-trucks. This makes it harder for them to spot people or objects just below their windshields, such as those walking in a crosswalk. They also have massive blind spots on either side of the vehicle, making it difficult for them to see pedestrians when they are backing out of an alleyway or adjusting the truck to pick up trash.
Many of these accidents are the result of a driver acting negligently. Texting while driving, substance abuse, or speeding can all make it extremely hard to control a large garbage truck. In the wrong hands, these vehicles can cause unimaginable damage. However, if your accident was caused by a negligent garbage truck driver, then you may be able to receive compensation in a government tort claim.
Who Is Responsible for Your Injuries?
New York garbage trucks are overseen by the NYC Department of Sanitation, which is generally protected under the concept of sovereign immunity. However, through the New York Court of Claims Act, accident victims can file a claim against the city if a garbage truck driver caused a pedestrian accident.
To file a claim, the victim must file a claim notice with the department within 90 days of the accident. If they fail to meet that deadline, or statute of limitations, then they would be barred from filing a claim. In addition, once that claim is filed, the city has 60 days to respond, either approving or denying the claim. If it is denied or the city does not respond, then the accident victim can pursue a lawsuit against the city.
Your best option for receiving compensation is working with a New York auto accident attorney at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP. We have experience successfully winning garbage truck accident cases involving pedestrians and can provide the same diligent legal guidance in your case. We also offer each potential client a free consultation, so there is no cost to reaching out to us and scheduling an appointment by calling (212) 986-7353.