We share the road daily, but they are often invisible to us because we are so accustomed to seeing them that we simply do not think about their presence. People who work daily on construction sites, travel back and forth between landfills and keep our streets free from trash operate these vehicles. Naturally, Naturally, we are talking about dump trucks & garbage trucks and accidents caused by them.
Even though you may not notice them, they still share the roads with us. Every road carries one of these trucks at some point during the workday. That means those commuting to work or school will inevitably see one or the other someplace.
Trash Generated in Florida and Dangers of Garbage Trucks
There are more than 22 million residents of Florida. These residents generate 652,033,111,800 pounds of garbage on an annual basis. While this is not as high as the amounts generated in other states, we have many garbage trucks moving through our communities weekly.
These garbage trucks weigh as much as 51,000 pounds when full and nearly 3,000 pounds when empty. Anyone involved in an accident with one of these vehicles has the potential to suffer a serious injury.
Some of the most common reasons for accidents involving garbage trucks include:
- Size of the vehicle – The size of a garbage truck makes it harder to stop. These trucks also require additional space for turning, which can result in a car being in its blind spots.
- Maintenance issues – Garbage trucks have a lot of stress put on their mechanical parts by how they operate. Remember that a garbage truck makes hundreds of stops daily, stressing the vehicle’s transmission and brakes. Additionally, these trucks carry large loads daily, which puts a strain on tires and other parts.
- Distractions – Garbage truck operators must pay attention to the people they work with to know when they can continue to their next stop. Unfortunately, this often means they are not paying attention to the traffic around them, which can be problematic for those sharing the road with them.
- Falling debris – There is always a chance for garbage to fly out of the back of a garbage truck which could blind a driver with whom they are sharing the roadway. Flying or falling debris can cause serious accidents.
Garbage trucks are unique in that they are found in every community across Florida and make more frequent stops than other vehicles on the road. Garbage truck operators have many distractions unique to what they are doing.
Because others on the roadway can suffer serious injury when they are involved in an accident with a garbage truck or an accident in which a garbage truck driver may be responsible, contact a truck accident lawyer quickly as possible after an accident to ensure that a victim’s rights are protected.
Garbage Truck Accidents and Liability
Every county in Florida has contracts with collectors of waste. Residents often are footing the bill for the pickup of household trash. Keep in mind, in most cases, some separate contractors deal with commercial properties, which increases the likelihood of you encountering a garbage truck while you are on the roadway.
Some of the county services are described as follows:
- Hillsborough County – This country has five separate trash collection areas, which three different vendors service. This can complicate a trash truck accident claim.
- Manatee County – Residents of this county have a twice-weekly collection. This means the county has more garbage trucks on the road at least four days a week.
- Pinellas County – Since Pinellas County does not have a specific garbage vendor, most residents are on their own to identify a waste collection vendor. 11 vendors share the responsibility for waste collection across the county.
- Polk County – On an annual basis, garbage collected in the county totals approximately 750,000 tons from 140,000 residents.
- Orange County – The county issues each resident a 95-gallon roll cart for garbage collection. These bins hold up to eight 13-gallon trash bags. Weekly collections begin at 7 a.m. and continue as late as 5 p.m.
- Sarasota County – Trash collection begins at 6 a.m. across the county and may run as late as 5 p.m. in many areas. This means that trash trucks are often on the roads during rush hours.
Solid waste trucks differ from recycling trucks and often they collect both on the same day, which can significantly increase the number of garbage trucks on the roadways. Since these vehicles travel through residential areas, they must navigate narrow streets and share the road with not only those leaving home to get to work but also where children wait to get on a school bus, ride their bicycles, or play ball with friends.
Dump Trucks Are Vital for Construction and Dangerous for Others
There are numerous construction projects all over Florida. In Tampa alone, there are ten major construction sites. This does not consider the number of roadway repairs and other projects that may require dump trucks. Dump trucks provide invaluable services to our communities, but unfortunately, they pose some unique challenges to those with whom they share the roadway.
One of drivers’ most significant hazards is when dump trucks are traveling with full loads. These loads are often uneven because they carry construction debris. One wrong move and the debris could come out of the truck and strike another vehicle or create a road hazard in the blink of an eye-catching everyone unaware.
There are numerous dump trucks, each designed to haul specific cargo. Drivers of these behemoths must clear their blind spots, allow sufficient time to stop suddenly, and make wide turns. They must protect themselves and other drivers from their cargo when the truck is full of debris, gravel, or other products needed on construction sites.
Dump trucks can also pick up speed traveling on roadways with declines. Across Hillsborough County, there were 28,000 crashes in one recent year. A quick search of truck accidents in Hillsborough County reflects numerous accidents across the county involving dump trucks. This should concern every resident of the area.
Victim Injuries Following a Garbage or Dump Truck Accident
As with any truck accident, operators of cars, motorcycles, or pedestrians have far less protection than the truck driver has. The weight of a truck compared to a car is significantly different, and let’s face it, pedestrians and motorcyclists have very little protection from injury.
Some of the common injuries a victim can suffer following a crash with one of these vehicles include:
- Broken bones – Nearly all victims of accidents involving hard impacts with trucks could suffer at least one broken bone. While bones heal relatively fast, there is also a chance of compound fractures which can require more time to heal. Pedestrians and motorcyclists are more prone to broken bones than passengers or drivers of other cars.
- Facial wounds – Facial wounds can occur in a minor accident such as a rear-end collision. These wounds can occur when a driver’s face strikes the steering wheel or when an airbag deploys following a collision. These abrasions can leave lasting scars.
- Internal injuries – Drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and motorcyclists may suffer internal injuries from a collision with a garbage or dump truck. Car seatbelts, being thrown from a motorcycle, or a vehicle striking you while walking may cause these injuries. These are among the most dangerous injuries because they often go undetected.
- Head and neck injuries – An accident victim will nearly always have some type of head or neck injury following a collision. These can be minor injuries, or a victim could suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which can require months of recovery. TBI can also cause life-long issues for victims.
Insurance rules in Florida further complicate seeking compensation for these accidents. The first thing any victim of an accident should do is seek medical attention. If you do not seek medical care within 14 days of an accident, you could waive your right to collect compensation for your injuries.
Liability for Dump or Garbage Truck Accidents
Liability is required if you are involved in an accident with a dump truck or a garbage truck. While Florida is a no-fault insurance state, victims who suffer certain injuries are not always bound to the same rules. Motorcyclists also do not have the option of filing under no-fault policies because they do not have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
Truck accidents pose unique challenges because a truck driver may be an employee of a company or municipality, which may mean their employer is partially liable for the injuries a victim suffers in an accident.
Responsible parties may include:
- The operator of the truck
- Owner of the truck
- Employer of the truck driver
- Municipality or contractor who hired the trucking company
- Another motor vehicle operator
Claims for damages after an accident involving either a garbage truck or dump truck can get confusing. Hiring an attorney to represent your interests in these cases is generally a good idea.
Negotiations With Insurance Companies Present Challenges
Assuming your policy is like most Florida drivers, you are carrying the minimum amount of coverage. This coverage will pay 80 percent of your medical bills up to the minimum of $10,000 and may cover a portion of your lost wages. However, if you are in an accident involving a dump or garbage truck, your losses will quickly exceed this amount.
You can file a claim with the party who was liable for the accident. However, that will require establishing liability, and that is when you should seek legal advice from a law firm with experience dealing with complex truck accident cases. Insurers are not going to advise you of what rights you have after you file a claim.
On the contrary, they will provide you with as little information as possible and try to seek the most information from you regarding the accident and your injuries. Do not allow them to take advantage of you because you are uncertain of your rights. An experienced Florida truck accident lawyer can be your advocate and ensure you get the maximum compensation you deserve.
Handling the Cost of Legal Advice After a Garbage or Dump Truck Accident
All accident victims are concerned about being unable to pay for an attorney to represent them following an accident. However, in addition to offering a free case evaluation, most Florida truck accident attorneys accept an accident claim from victims for no up-front costs and on a contingency fee basis.
This means you do not owe any legal fees until and unless the lawyer can secure a settlement on your behalf. Remember, there may be other fees, such as filing and mailing fees, which you will be responsible for, but your attorney can explain these to you so that you know your liabilities.
An accident victim’s primary focus should be on regaining their physical health and strength following an accident involving a dump or garbage truck. Instead of having to focus on getting an insurance company to negotiate with you in good faith, let your lawyer do that on your behalf.
Focus on healing. A free consultation can help you determine your best course of action and help you understand your rights and legal options.