Trash collection is undoubtedly essential to our society. If you have ever forgotten to put the garbage can on the cub and had to wait an additional week, you can understand what a mess we would all be in without garbage trucks.
Despite their value, garbage trucks can present several unique dangers and are accountable for more accidents than most people realize.
If you or a loved one have been in a garbage truck accident, it is important to understand your rights to compensation for your injuries. An experienced garbage truck accident lawyer can walk you through the process and help you determine the best legal strategy for your situation.
Garbage Truck Accident Statistics
As commercial vehicles, garbage truck accident statistics are often lumped with other large or midsize trucks. Here are some of the most recent statistics regarding garbage truck accidents.
- In 2019, there were over 1,546 accidents involving garbage trucks across the United States. While the majority caused injuries, 109 of the accidents also resulted in death.
- Refuse collection is considered one of the top 5 most dangerous jobs, with a fatality rate of 33 per 100,000—greater even than police officers.
- The average American produces 4.5 pounds of waste every single day. That adds up to 31.5 pounds a week for one person. This puts into perspective the need for garbage trucks.
As a whole, the United States is the top producer of municipal solid waste, or MSW, in the entire world, generating about 268 million tons annually, much of which is hauled by garbage trucks.
Why Are Garbage Trucks Uniquely Dangerous?
There are a lot of reasons that garbage trucks pose unique dangers aside from their obvious size and weight. Loaded garbage trucks can weigh up to 50 tons.
In comparison, the average car weighs 1.5 to 2.5 tons. If you were hit by a garbage truck, you may have a good understanding of how much damage is truly possible. Here are some of the reasons garbage trucks are uniquely dangerous.
- Garbage trucks and other large commercial vehicles require greater stopping distances because of their mass. This makes driving maneuvers challenging to execute.
- Garbage trucks are prone to flying debris, especially as they are being loaded. Though scraps of paper or candy wrappers may not be too dangerous, larger items could lead to potential accidents and injuries.
- From the summer of 2021 to 2022, there were at least seven instances of garbage trucks catching on fire because of hazardous waste material that should not have been allowed for standard trash removal.
- Frequent stopping and starting can make garbage trucks unpredictable, especially if drivers fail to use proper signals to indicate that they are moving or stopping.
- Large vehicles like garbage trucks have significant blind spots, which can lead to them merging lanes inappropriately and not seeing vehicles or pedestrians.
- Garbage trucks often operate in the early hours of the day when it is still dark. Some areas may not have adequate lighting, which can lead to accidents.
- Garbage trucks can cause serious property damage. In 2022, a garbage truck hit an electrical pole in Las Cruces, causing a large power outage and impacting traffic signals. The outage only lasted 40 minutes but could have been much longer.
- Employees require special training to operate garbage trucks. If a company or organization fails to adequately train the employee, or the employee fails to perform their duties as instructed, it could be dangerous for everyone.
- Backup lights and signals are especially important for garbage trucks. If trucks are poorly maintained, vehicles and pedestrians may not be able to see what the truck is doing.
- Early morning routes may make drivers more prone to exhaustion. Missing your morning cup of coffee is not a defense to falling asleep at the wheel.
Road conditions can also play a part in causing a garbage truck accident. Though New Mexico does not generally have harsh weather, even a hard rain on slippery roads can impact the vehicle’s stopping ability.
Understanding the cause of your accident is an important component of filing a claim for injury compensation. Your trash truck accident lawyer can conduct an investigation and gather evidence to determine what happened.
Who Is Liable in a Garbage Truck Accident?
Once your New Mexico garbage truck accident lawyer determines what happened, they can figure out who was responsible for your accident and who should be held responsible for the damages incurred. The liable person may not always be the driver of the trash collection vehicle. In fact, there could be multiple liable parties.
In many cases, the company that owns the garbage truck and employs the driver will be responsible for their actions as long as they were in the process of doing their job. If the employee was improperly trained, that may be the responsibility of a third-party educator.
Mechanical issues such as faulty brakes, signals, lights, and other components could be a factor in some accidents, which could mean the mechanic or parts manufacturer is at fault. These are only a few examples of potential parties you may bring your accident claim against.
Your garbage truck accident attorney will help you sort through the facts and file against the correct party.
Do I Need a Garbage Truck Accident Attorney?
Garbage truck accidents are often more complex than standard passenger vehicle collisions. The injuries can be devastating, and there may be multiple liable parties and insurance companies involved.
It is helpful to have an experienced New Mexico garbage truck accident lawyer to guide you through the legal process and help you receive the compensation you deserve.
The experienced and skilled attorneys at Flores, Tawney, & Acosta, P.C., understand what it takes to stand up to big businesses and insurance companies and win.
We have earned million-dollar results on behalf of injury victims, and though each case is unique, we are here to ensure you do not settle for less than what you are owed. Contact us to schedule your free case consultation.