Whether they are operated by government entities or private companies, garbage trucks perform an important function. However, they also pose a risk of accidents that can cause serious injuries or death to people in smaller vehicles. Some causes of garbage truck accidents arise from the nature of the work. For example, these trucks tend to stop and start repeatedly. Garbage truck drivers also may try to complete their work more efficiently by stopping in the middle of a road or a city street. This can cause crashes that might have been averted if the driver had taken the time to pull over out of the flow of traffic.
Moreover, garbage truck drivers tend to start work in the early morning. Sometimes they may get behind the wheel while it is still dark or after getting inadequate rest. Drowsy driving thus may play a role in a garbage truck accident. This may be especially true for private companies operating garbage trucks. To maximize profits, they may order or incentivize their drivers to work long hours or start very early, even when they know that their drivers are suffering from excessive fatigue.
Legal Action After a Garbage Truck Accident
If errors by a driver or a trucking company caused a crash, a victim can pursue compensation for economic and non-economic losses. They may receive reimbursement for past, present, and future medical costs, in addition to lost wages and earning capacity, vocational rehabilitation, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress, among other damages. Getting compensation usually requires proving that a defendant failed to use reasonable care under the circumstances. If a driver or company violated a law or regulation governing their conduct, this provides strong evidence that they failed to use reasonable care. Compliance with applicable laws and regulations does not necessarily mean that a defendant used reasonable care, though.
Even if a company that operated a garbage truck did nothing wrong, a victim may be able to hold the company accountable for negligence by its employee driver. They would need to show that the driver was on the job when the crash occurred.
Some statistics suggest that garbage trucks operated by private companies are more likely to cause accidents than garbage trucks operated by cities or other government entities. However, publicly operated garbage trucks still can cause crashes. A victim pursuing a claim against a government entity may need to file their claim sooner than they would against a private company. Notice requirements and other distinctive rules may apply to personal injury lawsuits against the government. This makes it especially important to consult an attorney who knows how to handle these cases.
Truck accident cases tend to be more complex than ordinary car accident claims, and larger sums of money may be at stake. Thus, a victim should strongly consider hiring an attorney to represent them. Truck accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that they do not charge fees for their services until a client receives compensation. A representation agreement between the attorney and the client will provide that the attorney will collect their fees as a percentage of an eventual settlement or judgment. The percentage may vary depending on how much work the attorney performs on the case and how far the case progresses through the court system.