Both drivers and pedestrians are likely familiar with the dangers posed by garbage trucks. These hulking vehicles take up significant space on roadways and can cause some serious damage to both people and property. All it takes is one negligent or inattentive driver for catastrophe to strike, causing death and destruction in its wake.
Unfortunately, emptying dumpsters and collecting trash often requires using large, heavy trucks that employ increasingly more complicated and dangerous machinery to collect trash. Many of these truck’s systems pose a danger to other cars, pedestrians, and their operators. On top of this, garbage trucks often need to drive on dangerous or crowded roads to get to their collection routes. This means that on rural roads and city streets, where maneuverability is tight, trucks may injure bystanders or other drivers.
Garbage trucks usually weigh tens of thousands of pounds and can be more than 30 feet long. On cramped city streets, these mammoth vehicles can be a danger to anyone and anything around them as they attempt to maneuver through traffic. Because these trucks often have large blind spots and long stopping distances, the odds of an accident are greater than with most other types of vehicles. Factor in the potential for human error, and those odds only increase. But what do you do if you or a loved one have been involved in an accident involving a trash truck?
There are a number of specific steps you should take as soon as the accident occurs, and the process for filing the lawsuit can be lengthy. Luckily, the Philadelphia garbage truck accident lawyers at The Reiff Law Firm have extensive experience dealing with all manner of personal injury lawsuits, including those involving garbage truck accidents. We can put our knowledge to work to get you the maximum compensation for your injuries or losses. Contact us today at (215) 987-2167.
How Garbage Truck Accidents Happen
Operating garbage trucks often means moving the truck from place to place while collectors walk around the truck. This often means that the driver is very aware of pedestrians and movement around the truck, but not always. There is always a risk, especially on crowded city streets or back roads with low visibility, that a truck will not be able to see a pedestrian.
Further, since these trucks make frequent stops, they may create road dangers. Most drivers do not expect to turn a corner and have to stop for a garbage truck. Because garbage trucks often need to work in tight environments, they may block traffic, ignore traffic signs, and even drive on the wrong side of the road. These kinds of driver errors are wholly inappropriate in many situations, and cause unnecessary risk.
Aside from this, garbage trucks of the typical variety, as well as larger tractor-trailers are used to transport garbage longer distances, or to larger, regional dumps. Any time a truck is on the road, it has the potential to cause a standard traffic accident. The size and weight makes garbage trucks difficult to control. Moreover, any large truck has an especially high accident risk due to the driver’s low visibility. Tractor trailers additionally offer a high risk of swerving, jackknifing, or flipping due to improperly loaded cargo. Garbage trucks are at a special risk for this, since the loading and packing of the truck is less methodical and planned than typical truck loading.
Unsafe Garbage Truck Operation Injuries
There are dozens of types of dump trucks, all of which carry garbage or dumpsters in different ways, for different purposes. The standard “dump truck” most people may recognize as the kind used for collection routes is typically a large truck with a rear door. These doors often contain a large space for the collectors to place garbage, and a hydraulic press that flattens garbage. Other common garbage trucks have large spikes attached to the top or front, used to lift and dump dumpsters into a top-loaded container.
More and more commonly, garbage companies are using more mechanical trucks to collect trash and recycling. These trucks often use large garbage cans, which the truck lifts from the side via a mechanical arm. Similar designs may be used to lift dumpsters and other trash containers.
These moving parts are a risk to anyone near the truck – including the operators themselves. People walking on the sidewalk or anywhere near the vehicle are at risk from these vehicles, which could drop heavy garbage bins or dumpsters, could hit people with the moving arms (whether loaded or empty), or could throw garbage from the bin if operated improperly.
For garbage truck workers, the risks may be even higher. Putting your hands, arms, or head near some of these moving parts as part of your job could be a huge risk. If any of these parts fail, malfunction, or catch on your person, you could suffer severe injury. Since many of the mechanical parts on newer trucks are operated from the cab, you may not have the ability to control the truck from the outside. This means relying upon other truck operators to keep you safe. Moreover, you run the simple risk of being hit by your own coworkers driving the truck.
What to Do When a Philadelphia Garbage Truck Accident Happens
Accidents involving large vehicles like garbage trucks in Philadelphia can lead to severe injuries and the near-total destruction of valuable property. If you find yourself involved in such an accident, you should first and foremost seek medical attention for your injuries. Keep in mind that these incidents can cause a rush of adrenaline in your system, causing you to feel little to no pain even with severe injuries. Take some time to check yourself over.
If you’re physically able, try to gather as much information as you can about all drivers, passengers, and witnesses involved in the incident. Concentrate on details such as their name, address, telephone number, date of birth, driver’s license number, and insurance company information. Record the name and badge number of any law enforcement officer who responds to the scene and ask them when and where you can get a copy of the accident report. Take photos of the area, if possible, and note any observations about traffic or weather conditions that may have played a role.
You should also be aware that Philadelphia police will not respond to minor accidents, even if called. If you are fortunate enough to escape injury and substantial damage to property, know that the task of gathering pertinent information falls squarely on your shoulders.
Grounds to Sue for Garbage Truck Collision Injuries in Philadelphia
In the event of an accident that causes you harm, either physically or financially, you should be aware that you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against all responsible parties, which may include the driver, the driver’s employer, or the municipality where the accident occurs. The circumstances can vary widely and may be difficult to sort out; finding a knowledgeable source of legal advice can help you avoid a misstep that could wind up costing you a lot of money.
In the aftermath of an accident, costs can quickly pile up, especially if you were injured or lost a loved one. If this is your situation, you might be entitled to recoup some of these losses; at The Reiff Law Firm, we can help you get reimbursed for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, the total amount you are awarded can vary based on a number of factors.
One thing that can complicate the situation is the variety of insurance options for vehicles on Pennsylvania roadways. The Keystone State is one of 12 in the U.S. to offer a “no-fault” insurance option that can shield some drivers from certain types of legal action. Knowing how to identify the types of insurance involved and what they mean for your case is a crucial step in determining what you are owed and who should pay.
It is also important to note that Pennsylvania law follows the principal of comparative negligence, meaning that the amount of money you ultimately receive can be reduced if you are found to be at fault. For example, if the investigation into the accident indicates that you are 20 percent at fault, your award at the end of the process will only be 80 percent of the total damages.
Additionally, Pennsylvania has imposed a statute of limitations on the filing of personal injury lawsuits; any suit must therefore be filed within two years of the date of the accident or risk being nullified. For this reason, it is advantageous to contact a Philadelphia garbage truck accident attorney soon after your accident to get the ball rolling on any legal action you wish to pursue.
Philadelphia Truck Accident Attorneys You Can Trust
At The Reiff Law Firm, we understand the stress that victims of car accidents face in the wake of an injury or loss. The loss of a vehicle can mean a loss of independence, and the struggle seek compensation from those responsible can be a difficult, drawn-out process. Our skilled, determined legal team is ready and willing to take on that challenge for you. There are no up-front fees, and we only get paid if you obtain the award you deserve. Call our Philadelphia garbage truck accident lawyers today at (215) 987-2167 and we’ll begin fighting for you right away.