Garbage trucks come in different sizes and designs. When they’re empty, they weigh about 33,000 pounds. When they’re fully loaded, they weigh about 51,000 pounds. Depending on the truck, they’re anywhere between 23 to a little over 28 feet in length. One thing that these garbage trucks have in common is poor visibility and large blind spots all the way around them. They’re capable of simply crushing passenger cars, pedestrians and cyclists. Given the manner that they’re required to operate with their frequent maneuvering and the necessity of crossing tight streets, alleys, driveways and sidewalks, other vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists are in a zone of danger when they’re around garbage trucks, especially in residential neighborhoods. The City of Philadelphia’s Sanitation Division collects trash for residential buildings of six units or less. That totals about 530,000 residential units. Public employees use rear-load compactors. There are also commercial trash collectors.
Some Philadelphia Accident Examples
Like any big city, Philadelphia has its share of serious garbage truck accidents. In April of 2018, an out of control garbage truck in the Grays Ferry section of Philadelphia collided with 10 cars with such force and violence that a station wagon was pushed up onto the hood of a car. Just north of Philadelphia in Whitemarsh Township, a garbage truck flipped on its side, crushing a worker and killing him. In late 2017, a bicyclist was hit by a garbage truck and died from her injuries in the Center City District of Philadelphia. Both the garbage truck and the bicyclist were traveling in the same direction when the garbage truck made a right turn into her.
Common Causes of Garbage Truck Accidents
Most garbage trucks travel at relatively slow speeds, but that doesn’t detract from the risks that they pose. Some of the common variables that factor into a tragic garbage truck accident follow:
- Massive blind spots.
- Drowsy or fatigued drivers.
- Inattentive or distracted drivers.
- Worn brakes and tires.
- Faulty reverse gear alarms.
- Increased stopping distances.
- Objects falling from the trucks.
- Inexperience or lack of proper training.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.
Note: Garbage trucks purchased by the City of Philadelphia after 2018 will all have side guards.
There Might Be More Than One Defendant
Determining who is responsible for a garbage truck accident can be complicated. The driver of the truck, the driver’s employer, the owner of the truck or even a municipality can all be held liable in an accident. After being injured in a garbage truck accident, you don’t want them pointing their fingers at each other while your medical bills and lost time from your job accrue, especially when there was no comparative fault that was attributable to you. We can stop that from happening by forcing the issue through the courts.
Municipal Liability Limits
Pennsylvania has limits on how much in damages that a municipality might be exposed to in the event of a motor vehicle accident. As per Chapter 85 Title 42 section 8553 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, “Damages arising from the same cause of action or transactions or occurrence shall not exceed $500,000 in the aggregate.” That just isn’t enough for a permanent debilitating injury or a wrongful death, but that’s the law in Pennsylvania. That’s why an intensive search must be performed in order to identify any other people or entities that might also be held liable in a Philadelphia truck accident involving severe injuries or death.
The Statue of Limitations and Notice of Claim
If you were hit, or your family member was hit by a garbage truck that was owned and operated by the City of Philadelphia or any other municipality in Pennsylvania, the general rule is that you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for your injuries and other damages. You’re likely to go nowhere though if you don’t file a notice of a personal injury claim with the city within 180 days of the date of your accident. That claim notice must be timely, specific and properly filed.
Contact Us After a Garbage Truck Accident
Given the notice requirement and statute of limitations, you’ll want to see us as soon as possible after being injured in any garbage truck accident. Contact us, and we’ll arrange for a free consultation and case review. If we enter into a retainer agreement with you, no legal fees at all are due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict on your behalf.