We see dump and garbage trucks everywhere. Both provide vital services to our communities. Garbage trucks provide sanitary living conditions, and dump trucks support necessary construction projects. However, they are large vehicles and can cause serious injuries when involved in an accident. In this blog post, we discuss the accident risks involved in sharing the road with dump and garbage trucks, and the legal rights of victims of accidents with them.
The Dangers of Dump and Garbage Trucks
A fully loaded garbage truck can weigh 60,000 pounds. It is a huge vehicle with awkward dimensions and large blind spots. Dump trucks, likewise, have a deep, open bed in the back of the truck. They, too, have an unwieldy, and potentially dangerous, shape and, when fully-loaded with cargo, can weigh tens of thousands of pounds.
Statistics confirm that these trucks are known to be involved in fatal accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) annual report on Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts showed that out of 4,657 fatal crashes, 380 involved dump trucks, and 107 involved garbage trucks. Both of these figures reflected an increase in figures from previous years.
Dump truck accidents often involve construction workers. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 800 construction workers died in incidents involving dump trucks over a 15 year period. Of these, 343 were workers who were outside of the vehicles.
Garbage trucks pose somewhat different dangers as compared to other large trucks because they routinely travel through residential neighborhoods that have relatively narrow roads. They pose a danger to pedestrians and cyclists, as well as other vehicles. They also feature a trash compactor that packs the trash on the fly, so the truck can carry more garbage without having to unload. However, compacting mechanisms are dangerous. Trash collector is commonly listed as one of the most dangerous jobs in the nation, ranking as the fifth-highest for work civilian work injuries.
Understanding the Risks of Dump and Garbage Trucks
There are some unique risks associated with dump trucks and garbage trucks. These risks include:
- These vehicles make many stops and starts, but they need more distance than smaller, lighter vehicles to come to a complete stop.
- Shifting debris from a garbage truck or the bed of a dump truck make them potentially unstable and prone to rollover.
- Cargo can fall from these trucks while they travel at highway speeds, creating road hazards that can damage other vehicles and cause accidents.
- Sometimes, these trucks carry flammable or hazardous materials without taking adequate precautions to keep the public safe.
- They have large, oddly-shaped blind spots.
Dump and Garbage Truck Accident Causes
Accidents involving dump and garbage trucks happen for a wide variety of reasons. However, dump and garbage trucks are especially prone to accidents involving:
All vehicles have blind spots. These are areas that the driver cannot see in their mirrors. Accidents often occur because of blind spots when drivers are making lane changes or turns and cannot see the vehicles around them. The blind spots in garbage and dump trucks are much larger and unpredictably-shaped because the large containers on the back of both types of trucks block the driver’s view in their rearview mirrors.
Drivers of passenger cars can check their blind spots before making a move by simply looking over their shoulders. This is difficult for those driving big trucks. It may be difficult for them to see cars that are lower to the ground, and to recognize hazards when backing-up.
Center of Gravity
Garbage and dump trucks have a high center of gravity. If cargo shifts or is not properly loaded, the truck can tip over. Also, if the load shifts, the driver may lose control of the truck when turning corners or making stops. Many trucks have very high bumpers or no bumpers, for purposes of ground clearance, creating a risk of smaller vehicles “riding under” the trucks in a collision.
Poorly Maintained Vehicles
Garbage trucks and dump trucks take an enormous amount of abuse in day-to-day operations. Owners and operators of these vehicles should take extra care to keep them in top condition. Unfortunately, that does not always happen. A lack of maintenance of essential truck systems, such as brakes, hydraulics, and tires, can make these vehicles (dump trucks especially) a hazard on public roads.
Human error contributes to many dump and garbage truck accidents. Like all drivers, truck drivers are prone to distracted driving. They get fatigued from working long hours and under pressure to meet route schedules and deadlines. In some cases, drivers simply panic and lose control of their vehicles. Dump and garbage truck drivers may also make dangerous decisions behind the wheel, such as by speeding, driving recklessly, or driving under the influence.
Tragically, children often suffer the worst injuries in accidents with dump and garbage trucks. They may fail to understand the dangers of a garbage truck, or not expect the truck to stop or back up. They may be unaware that the driver can’t see them. Often, children riding bicycles do not hear or are not paying attention to the truck behind them, resulting in a catastrophic or fatal accident.
Seek Legal Help in Garbage Truck or Dump Truck Accidents
If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by the driver of a garbage truck or dump truck, you have the right to recover significant compensation for your injuries and losses. The truck drivers, truck owners, and businesses that lease or operate the trucks could all have a legal liability to you for damages, which may include compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Be aware, however, that you have limited time to take legal action. With every day that passes, important evidence of how the accident happened and who is to blame may become increasingly difficult to find. Do not delay in protecting your rights.
Contact an experienced truck accident attorney today for a free case consultation.
Benson & Bingham Accident Injury Lawyers, LLC
626 S 10th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101