Garbage trucks, and the people who operate them, reside in the background in our everyday lives. They have a habit of making their presence loudly known, especially in the early mornings, but few people will spend more than half a minute thinking about these disruptions to their routine. Garbage pickup is necessary and expected. Because of this, it’s easy to forget that sanitation workers can make the same human errors as everyone else on the road. They may have years of experience operating monstrously large vehicles, but slip-ups will always occur – and can easily become catastrophic, due to the size, weight, and power of a garbage truck.
When it comes to sanitation, among other things, the state of New York divides itself between what goes on in New York City and the surrounding area. In New York City, great efforts have been made to accommodate the needs of a waste management system that has two different processes in place for residents and public programs, and private commercial firms. However, the rules of driving a garbage truck down the congested streets of New York City don’t differ much compared to more rural counterparts. These truck drivers are still responsible for following many of the same traffic laws and may still be liable in the event of an accident.
Depending on the circumstances, the driver, the local municipality, or a private waste management firm may be responsible for paying the victim’s bills. And you need a top NYC law firm that’s already tackled the big dogs to get you full compensation. Call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, to schedule a free consultation about your rights and options.
Because of their massive size and weight, garbage trucks have been known to crush other vehicles in a collision. While some people have been able to walk away with only a few cuts or bruises, the risk is high that victims will end up with severe bodily damage or even be killed. Here are some common injuries sustained in an accident with a garbage truck:
- Traumatic brain injury, like a concussion
- Deep lacerations
- Nerve damage
- Loss of limb
- Internal injuries or bleeding
- Bone fractures
Many of these injuries can lead to long-lasting medical complications later in life. Additionally, the potential medical expenses of surgery, physical rehabilitation, and other treatments could make it very difficult to return to your normal life.
Is it the driver? The local municipality? The company that manufactured the garbage truck? Depending on the circumstances of the collision, the answer is that any one of these three could be held liable. Unlike an automobile accident where liability rests with the individuals involved, a garbage truck is owned by a third party, so if the accident occurred due to circumstances outside of the driver’s control, either the local government, the private waste management company, or another negligent driver entirely could be held responsible.
Here are some of the most common reasons for a truck collision:
- Driver Error: Garbage truck drivers must abide by the rules laid out by New York State. If the driver is fatigued, tired, or distracted in some way that led to a collision, the driver could be held liable.
- Improperly Maintained Roads: If streets are not properly cared for, they can greatly increase the risk of collisions. For instance, if a garbage truck crashed due to a pothole, improper signage, or another safety concern, the local municipality may be responsible.
- Poorly Maintained Vehicles: If a manufacturer sold parts that were defective and led to an accident, that company could be liable. On the other hand, if the fleet manager didn’t keep the dump truck in good working condition, it could be liable.
As of 2004, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires fleet managers to also maintain Driver Investigation History Files (DIHF) for operators of waste-collection vehicles, going back three years.
Not every garbage truck accident is straightforward. In fact, most are complicated affairs, involving state law, federal law, and NYC ordinances. When you file a personal injury or wrongful death claim, you’ll need to compile evidence, research legal precedents, and evaluate large amounts of information so that you can properly fight your case. This process can be even more difficult if you are trying to heal from a severe injury at the same time. Thankfully, you don’t need to do this alone.
If you’ve been the victim of a truck accident, you may have to contend with steep medical bills, property damage, or even the tragic loss of a loved one. Let our experienced New York trial lawyers give you the guidance you need in this trying time. When you work with Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, you’ll be working with a team that understands how to build an effective strategy for your case. We will analyze the unique circumstances, determine who should be held liable, and negotiate so you can receive the financial compensation you deserve. Call our office at (212) 986-7353 to learn about your options.