Garbage trucks perform the important work of collecting and removing trash from our homes and businesses. These large vehicles, which stop and start frequently, can cause serious accidents, whether operating in residential or commercial areas. If you’ve been injured in a garbage truck accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek financial compensation for your losses.
When you choose Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C. to help with your garbage truck accident case, you can be confident that we have the knowledge and experience to fight for full compensation for you.
Contact us today for a free initial case review with one of our experienced truck accident attorneys to learn about how our firm can help you pursue your claim and seek the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.
Garbage Truck Accidents Causes
Examples of the factors that cause or contribute to garbage truck accidents include:
- Driver negligence, including reckless driving (speeding, running red lights or stop signs), careless driving (such as failing to signal or yield)
- Distracted driving (such as using a cell phone while driving)
- Drowsy or fatigued driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Inattention – Garbage trucks have large blind spots that can make it difficult for truck drivers to see pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists around the truck, especially in residential neighborhoods. When truck drivers fail to remain alert to the traffic around them, they can cause accidents.
- Lack of maintenance, which can lead to the failure of vehicle components while a garbage truck is being operated
- Falling garbage, which can fall out of a truck and trigger an accident that leads to injury
Garbage Truck Accident Liability
When a garbage truck causes an accident that causes you to suffer injury, the first step in pursuing compensation for your injuries and losses involves determining what parties can be held liable for the accident. Multiple parties may bear some or all the liability for a garbage truck accident, including:
- The truck driver
- The waste management company, which may employ the truck driver or own the truck involved in the accident
- A government agency, if the garbage truck is operated directly by the government. The government also may be held liable if road or street conditions caused or contributed to the truck accident
- The manufacturer of the truck or a part used in the truck can be held responsible for a design or manufacturing defect that causes an accident
- The mechanics that service the truck may be held liable for negligently performed maintenance.
Why Are Garbage Truck Accidents Different?
Although you may think that pursuing a garbage truck accident claim is no different from any other type of motor vehicle accident case, garbage truck accidents do have certain aspects that make them more complicated than typical automobile crashes.
The first complicating factor is the involvement of government agencies in the waste collection process. Some municipalities and government agencies hire private companies to perform a waste collection on behalf of the municipality or government agency. However, some cities and towns own fleets of garbage trucks and employ workers to collect trash and operate the trucks.
When a garbage truck accident involves a truck owned and operated by the government, pursuing a legal claim can be made more complicated by governmental immunity. The liability of local and state government agencies is governed by the Texas Tort Claims Act, which sets forth the conditions and requirements under which a person injured by a government entity can bring a claim for compensation. Our attorneys can review the details of your accident and evaluate whether you have a valid claim.
The second issue unique to garbage truck accident cases involves establishing the negligence of the truck driver. To complete their routes, garbage trucks are often less constrained by the traffic laws, stopping frequently to make collections. Garbage truck drivers may be permitted to drive on the wrong side of the street, drive along the curb or edge of the road (including in bike lanes), stop in the middle of the street, or straddle traffic lanes. When garbage trucks are being driven in an unusual manner, establishing the garbage truck driver’s negligence can be more difficult.
Types of Injuries You Can Suffer after Being in a Garbage Truck Accident
Although some garbage truck accidents may result only in minor cuts and bruises, the large size of garbage trucks and the potentially dangerous nature of their equipment can lead to accidents that cause more serious injuries.
Examples of injuries that garbage truck accident victims can suffer include:
- Abrasions caused by contact with the pavement or ground
- Broken bones
- Dislocated joints
- Sprains and tears of muscles, ligaments, and tendons
- Ruptured or herniated spinal discs
- Neck and back injuries, including whiplash injuries
- Head injuries, including eye and ear injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Traumatic brain injury
- Internal organ damage and internal bleeding
Given the nature of the work performed by garbage trucks, accidents that result in open wounds or needlestick injuries can lead to serious infections including bloodstream infections.
Damages You Can Recover After Being Injured in a Garbage Truck Accident
When you’ve been injured due to no fault of your own in a garbage truck accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for losses you’ve incurred because of your injuries, including money for:
- Medical expenses, such as hospital bills, surgeries, physical rehab, and medications.
- Lost wages or earning capacity, if you miss time from work or are disabled from returning to your job or any form of employment due to your injuries.
- Physical pain and suffering and emotional/mental anguish.
- Diminished quality of life from physical disability or disfigurement.
- Loss of consortium, which compensates your spouse for the loss of your companionship, society, and intimate relations due to your injuries.
- Property damage, such as repair costs or the cash value of your vehicle if it was totaled in a waste management truck accident.
What Should I Do After Getting in a Garbage Truck Accident?
Following an accident, you should take steps to protect your legal rights and ensure that you have the opportunity to file a garbage truck accident claim and pursue compensation for your injuries and losses. The important steps include:
- Notify the Police of the Accident—You should call 9-1-1 and report the accident. You should answer the police officer’s questions and ask when you can obtain a copy of the police accident form. If the police were not called to the scene of the accident, you should report the accident to the Texas Department of Transportation using the form provided by TxDOT.
- Promptly Notify Your Insurance Company of the Accident—You should report the accident to your auto insurance company within 24 hours even if you were not at fault. You may be entitled to file a claim with your own insurer under medical benefits or underinsured motorist coverage. To be eligible for such coverage, your policy most likely requires you to give your insurer prompt notice of the accident you’ve been involved in.
- Get Checked Out—Get examined by a doctor for any injuries you may have suffered in the accident, even if you aren’t feeling any serious pain. The shock of the accident can cause a rush of adrenaline that masks pain from injuries. Many injuries don’t cause much pain initially but get worse over time. A doctor’s diagnosis of your injuries helps you to establish that the injuries were caused by the accident.
- Keep a Journal—While your memories are fresh, write down your recollection of what occurred in the accident and jot down notes of how your injuries have affected your personal and professional life. Keeping a journal can help refresh your memory if you later need to testify at a deposition about the accident. Keeping a journal can support your claim for compensation for pain and suffering or diminishment in the quality of your life.
- Keep copies of all bills, invoices, and receipts for expenses you incurred due to the accident. Keep copies of your pay stubs or income statements to document your lost wages or earning capacity.
Contact a Texas Garbage Truck Accident Attorney at Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C.
At Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., our Texas garbage truck accident lawyers work to protect the rights of accident victims. Our law firm has extensive experience in personal injury law, having handled more than 20,000 cases. We have office locations in Ft. Worth, Brownsville, McAllen, Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi South Side, San Antonio, and Houston. Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C. has Spanish-speaking and English-speaking staff so you can discuss your legal matter in the language that you feel most comfortable speaking.