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Liability in Garbage Truck Accidents

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on August 2, 2021

An orange garbage truck driving down the street.

In a city as big as Seattle, garbage and dump trucks are necessary to haul thousands of pounds in trash every week. These large, powerful vehicles perform an invaluable service in our communities, but they must be operated by experienced drivers. Their size and weight can easily contribute to a serious pedestrian or auto accident, and operators should be held accountable when they cause catastrophic injuries.

Types of Garbage Truck Accidents

Garbage trucks are often operated on tight roadways, during early hours, and with frequent stops. In all circumstances, drivers should always operate their vehicles responsibly and keep an eye out for other drivers and pedestrians. If they act negligently, they can cause serious accidents, such as:

  • Rear-end collisions due to speeding
  • Sideswipe accidents while changing lanes and failing to check blind spots
  • Pedestrian accidents when pulling to the sides of roads
  • Recklessly loading garbage with truck claws, which may strike nearby pedestrians or vehicles
  • T-bone accidents from running red lights
  • Cargo spills from improperly loaded garbage

Causes of Collisions

In the right hands, a garbage truck can be operated in a safe and responsible manner. However, whether due to poor hiring or lack of training, inexperienced drivers can get behind the wheel and cause serious trauma to nearby pedestrians and other drivers. These types of negligence include:

  • Failing to check blind spots
  • Speeding
  • Ignoring traffic signs
  • Texting while driving
  • Drowsy driving, especially during early hours
  • Aggressive driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Reckless turns

Recovering Compensation with Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S.

The process of recovering compensation after a garbage truck accident will depend on who was operating the vehicle. Here in Seattle, garbage trucks are managed by either the Seattle Public Utilities or private hauling companies.

With government agencies, you will need to follow a strict process to get compensation in a government vehicle accident claim. You must file a claim within three years and make sure that you include all details of the accident, including evidence of negligence. Once you file the claim, you must wait 60 days to hear a reply from the government agency. If the agency does not reply or denies your claim, you can pursue a lawsuit against the agency for compensation.

For private hauling companies, you will need to pursue an auto accident claim with the vehicle’s commercial auto insurance company. This will require thoroughly investigating the accident, collecting evidence of negligence, calculating the value of your injuries, and negotiating with the insurance company. You also have three years to file a claim, but you should speak to an attorney early to ensure evidence does not spoil.

If you or someone you love was injured in a garbage or dump truck accident, you may be eligible for compensation. A Seattle personal injury attorney at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., can guide you through filing a claim against Seattle Public Utilities or another waste disposal company and advocate for your best interests at every step. We have decades of combined experience investigating serious auto accidents and getting proper compensation for our clients. Let us stand up for you.

Call Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., at (425) 228-3860 and toll-free at (888) 228-3860 to talk about you case today in a free consultation.

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