Garbage trucks are huge, heavy vehicles that have large blind spots. So when they are involved in accidents, serious injuries or death often result. Victims and their families will likely qualify to file a claim and pursue compensation for damages, but there are specific rules and steps that apply to cases involving city-owned garbage trucks. Also, if the garbage truck is owned by a government entity a six-month notice requirement may apply, so it is important to take action as soon as practicable.
For a free consultation with a garbage truck accident lawyer in Pittsburgh, call Berger and Green at 412-661-1400
What are some common types of accidents involving garbage trucks?
One of the most common types of garbage truck accidents involves pedestrians and bicyclists. People walking or cycling nearby can get hit, run over, and crushed by the trucks whose drivers do not see them.
Other types of garbage truck accident include the involving:
- Running into other vehicles
- Debris falling off the truck
- Other drivers trying to pass garbage trucks
- People traveling in the truck’s no-zones
What are some common causes of garbage truck accidents?
There are numerous potential causes for garbage truck accidents, from driving too fast for conditions to mechanical malfunctions with the trucks. In most cases, the underlying cause is negligence, i.e., a person or a company acted in a way that was careless and it resulted in an accident.
Below are few examples of the common causes of garbage truck accidents:
- Truck driver inattention (e.g., fatigue, using a phone, etc.)
- Poorly trained drivers
- Faulty brakes or malfunctioning compactors or other defective truck components
- Not checking mirrors or using signals when backing up
- Failing to properly maintain and repair garbage trucks
Who can victims hold liable for garbage truck accidents?
Like with any accident case, the party that caused the accident is the one that can be liable for victims’ damages. If you are primarily at fault, you will need to file a claim with your own insurance company. If the truck driver, other sanitation worker, or waste management company caused the accident, then you can hold the company or agency liable.
Garbage truck accidents are a little more complex, though. Liability can be complicated by:
Some garbage pickups are under the ownership of government waste management agencies, while others are privately owned. Each type of case involves a different set of guidelines.
Government entities are partially immune from liability in some cases; accident cases against the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Public Works (DPW) have much stricter rules than those against private companies.
When the accident was the result of a defective part on the truck, then the correct recourse may be to file a product liability suit against that manufacturer, not an injury claim against waste management.
In some cases, both the garbage truck driver and the injured victim are partly liable (and sometimes even additional parties in a multi-car accident), which further complicates matters.
When sanitation workers suffer injury on the job, they are generally not able to seek recovery via an injury claim, but rather they can file to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Victims will need to speak to a lawyer to determine liability and for detailed information on how to move forward in accordance with applicable laws. To speak to a garbage truck accident lawyer in Pittsburgh, call 412-661-1400.
What types of damages can I recover?
Victims of garbage truck accidents often sustain severe injuries including crushed or severed limbs, skull fractures and brain injuries, internal injuries, and spinal cord trauma. The damages in these types of cases can be substantial, and the settlements and verdicts can be quite large.
If you can successfully prove that the garbage truck company or the DPW was at fault for your injuries, you can recover various types of damages including:
- Current and future medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages, disability, and loss of work benefits and perks
- Any other associated expenses, such as prosthetics, prescriptions, transportation expenses, home aides and nursing services, etc.
- Pain and suffering
- The effect of your injuries on your family, relationships, and self-esteem
- Lost quality of life
In wrongful death cases, the accident victim’s family can recover damages such as the deceased’s hospital, medical, funeral, burial expenses; loss of financial contributions the deceased would have made; and loss of services, society, and comfort.
NOTE: Cases against the DPW have a damage cap of $500,000. That is the maximum amount you can recover from a case against a local government agency in Pennsylvania. Cases against private companies and parties are not subject to that cap.
How long do I have to file a claim?
Victims must file most auto accident personal injury cases within two years, as per Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations laws. However, if you are filing against a city or municipality, you usually have to notify the agency of your decision to take legal action within six months of the accident. This is critical distinction because failing to file in time or to follow the procedures for taking action against the government will bar your rights to compensation.
How do I get started with a garbage truck accident case?
Your first step in taking legal action to obtain compensation for your damages is to run your case by a Berger and Green attorney. Our team is dedicated to helping accident victims hold negligent parties accountable for the harms they have caused.
We can identify which party is liable for the accident and explain the proper steps you need to take to protect your rights and secure the funds you and your family need.
Consultations with our lawyers are free, and we do not charge for our services unless we win your case. Call Berger and Green in Pittsburgh today at 412-661-1400 to get started.