It’s a typical morning in a suburb somewhere in Florida. People are going about their business with kids leaving for school, parents heading to work, senior citizens walking the dog, and joggers doing their thing. In the midst of it all is a large vehicle weighing 8-10 tons, 10 feet wide and 30 feet long. It’s a garbage truck.
Surrounded by daily activity and given the tight spaces they must work with, garbage truck drivers repeatedly maneuver, backup, start and stop. They are also significantly limited in what they can see or hear. All this increases the risk of an accident that will cause injury or death.
So what are the main causes of garbage truck accidents?
Despite the most careful of handling, not all the refuse or debris tossed into the truck will be captured by the compactor. Some loose items will fall off. Often, the debris is light and relatively harmless if it struck someone. However, if it’s a sharp object or one of significant weight, there is a real risk of injury to anyone who comes into contact with it.
Debris can be a danger to other road users too. Drivers swerving to avoid hitting the object could cause an accident. The debris may strike the windshield of a passing car or hamper the driver’s visibility. Liability for this type of incident will depend on whether the truck’s compactor malfunctioned or if the collector did not exercise due care when throwing the refuse into the truck.
Brooms, shovels and other ‘loose’ equipment may fall off the truck if they are not properly secured. Like debris, they could cause injury if they fall on one of the workers. They may pose a serious hazard if they fell on the road. Accidents may result as drivers avoid hitting the equipment.
The person(s) to be held responsible will depend on the circumstances under which the objects fell. If the collector did not take reasonable care to secure them in place, they and the truck owner would be liable.
The driver bears ultimate responsibility for control of the vehicle. Considering the many actions and moving parts involved, this is a challenging task that requires utmost concentration. In addition, a garbage truck has a number of blind spots that make it difficult for the driver to see bicycles, scooters, joggers and pedestrians in close proximity.
The driver and truck owner will be liable for negligence if the driver causes an accident because he was speeding or operated the truck while severely fatigued, ill, on medication, distracted by their phone or under the influence of drugs. They will also be responsible if they are considered to have failed in their duty of reasonable care while operating the truck.
Drivers must be particularly cautious if they spot children in the vicinity. Kids have a fascination with garbage trucks and their curiosity might draw them to it.
Garbage trucks are giants and occupy much more road space than the average vehicle. Also, the nature of the work they are used for requires that they move fairly slowly as collectors grab garbage cans. This sluggish speed is bound to irritate an impatient driver who will try to drive around the truck despite not having clear visibility of what is happening on the other side of the truck.
The car could end up hitting a garbage collector, a pedestrian or other vehicle on the road. In this case, the car driver and car owner would be liable for any personal injuries experienced by other parties as a result of the accident.
A garbage truck is not your ordinary motor vehicle. It is a complex machine comprised of several moving parts. There have been a lot of improvements over the years meant to ensure the safe operation of garbage trucks. Still, it is not always possible to capture all design defects before they cause serious problems including injury and death. If a person is injured by the equipment on a truck due to a design defect, they may pursue compensation from the truck maker and contact with an experienced West Palm Beach truck accident attorney.
Get in Touch with West Palm Beach Truck Accident Lawyer at Scott J. Sternberg & Associates, P.A.
Have you experienced an injury following an accident involving a garbage truck? At, Scott J. Sternberg & Associates, P.A., we could help you understand the legal options at your disposal and the steps you need to take. Talk to our West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer today at no cost.