Articles Posted in Garbage Truck Accidents

Garbage trucks are big, stinky, and generally viewed as a nuisance to pedestrians and motorists alike. However, garbage trucks are not only annoying but also dangerous. Maryland garbage truck accidents account for a significant number of the state’s truck accidents. In part, this is due to the fact that garbage trucks are enormous vehicles that are constantly stopping in what seems to be an unpredictable manner.

When it comes to sharing the road with large trucks in general, both motorists and truck drivers have certain duties that must be followed. For instance, motorists should provide ample room for garbage trucks and should only pass a stopped or slow-moving truck when it is legal and safe to do so.

On the other hand, garbage truck drivers must take precautions when operating these large trucks on small city streets where motorists may not be accustomed to sharing the road with such large vehicles. Additionally, garbage trucks must be properly equipped with mirrors, lights, signals, and other safety equipment.

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All large trucks can be dangerous for pedestrians, especially when they are driven on city streets. However, few trucks spend more time around pedestrians than garbage trucks, and that makes garbage trucks a very real danger to pedestrians in Maryland. Indeed, garbage truck drivers spend hours each day slowly crawling through the city streets, often requiring they negotiate traffic jams, tight turns, one-way streets, and a host of other potentially dangerous situations that frequently are seen on city streets and may result in a Maryland truck accident.

Additionally, garbage trucks themselves are inherently dangerous because they are large, heavy, and not well-equipped for city streets. Nonetheless, garbage truck drivers have a duty to ensure that they are safely operating the truck at all times. When a driver fails to take the necessary precautions, they may be held liable for any injuries caused to other motorists or pedestrians. Additionally, in some situations, the driver’s employer can also be held liable under the doctrine of respondeat superior, which allows for accident victims to hold an employer liable for an employee’s negligent conduct in some situations.

In order for an employer to be liable in a truck accident case, the accident victim must establish that the employee was acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident. Essentially, courts ask whether the employee was “authorized” by his employer to be engaging in the activity that resulted in the accident.

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Every driver on the road owes a duty of care to the other motorists with whom he or she shares the road. This duty encompasses a wide range  of conduct. Some conduct is required under certain circumstances, and other conduct is prohibited. It is up to the motorist to know what to do and act appropriately in the circumstances. One of the duties all drivers have to others on the road is to stop and render assistance to anyone involved in a vehicle accident, regardless of who is at fault and whether it looked as though anyone was injured.

Truck drivers, with their large, cumbersome vehicles, are no exception to this rule. In fact, many duties and “rules of the road” are more strictly enforced against truck drivers, since they are commercial drivers. When a truck driver causes an accident, or is even involved in an accident that was not his or her fault, that driver must stop to exchange information with the other parties involved, as well as to determine if they need any medical assistance. If they do, the truck’s driver is legally responsible to help them obtain that assistance. This may mean just exchanging information if the accident is minor or calling 9-1-1 and waiting for an ambulance to arrive in more serious accidents.

A driver’s failure to live up to this duty may result in that driver being held liable for an accident victim’s injuries.

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Earlier this month in Gaithersburg, a bicyclist was killed when he was struck by a sanitation truck that was pulling into a parking lot. According to one local news report, the bicyclist was riding on the 12100 block of Darnestown Road heading east when the accident occurred.

Evidently, the driver of a sanitation truck was heading westbound on Darnestown Road when he attempted to make a left turn into a parking lot. As he completed the left turn, he struck the bicyclist, fatally injuring him. At the time he attempted to make the turn, the truck driver had a green light. The bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency workers.

Police are currently investigating the cause of the accident to see if the bicyclist was at fault or whether it was the truck driver’s negligence that caused the accident. Depending on the result of their investigation, the truck driver may face charges for his role in the accident.

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Highway traffic accidents involving semi-tractor trailers and other large commercial trucks happen hundreds of times a year. Some of those crashes result in injuries to one or more people. Still others can cause death or permanent injury to occupants in smaller, less massive motor vehicles such as minivan, sedans, economy cars and motorcycles.

Statistics also indicate that larger vehicles, such as tractor-trailer rigs, are more likely to be involved in serious multiple-vehicle collisions than passenger cars. This data also tells us that injuries resulting from truck accidents can be much more serious and many times fatal. Common injuries include spinal cord damage, severe brain trauma, broken bones and other serious and permanent bodily harm.

As Maryland trucking accident attorneys, I and my staff know that any multi-vehicle accident can be fatal, with some causing mostly minor, yet significant injuries. Although people can physically recover from such minor wrecks, even those associated medical costs can become a burden to a family already strapped for cash.

Apparently trucking accidents can occur anywhere, even when you’re family is supposedly safe at home. That’s what happened not long ago when the driver of a trash collection truck apparently lost control and slammed into the front of a South Baltimore home. As a Maryland personal injury lawyer, I have helped many people following the aftermath of semi collisions and tractor-trailer crashes on our highways and surface streets.

Although most truck-related crashes involve other vehicles, this particular accident caused massive damage to a family’s home. It is only by shear luck that no one was seriously injured in the incident. Accidents involving large commercial vehicles can range from minor abrasions, to deep cuts and bruises, contusions, neck and spinal damage, or traumatic brain injuries.

According to reports, the family who house was damaged did receive help from the city, who owns and operates the garbage truck that hit the structure. The city’s housing commissioner was told by the mayor to do “everything possible to help this family.”

The Baltimore Sun reports that Christine D. Schoppert, 33, of Pasadena, Maryland was killed driving her five year old daughter to nursery school on Tuesday morning. Schoppert stopped her Nissan Maxima to make the left turn into the Creative Garden Learning Center on Ordnance Road when Brian Weatherley’s Chrysler Concord rear ended her. The collision forced Schoppert into the path of an oncoming garbage truck and both vehicles caught fire.

A passerby on his way to work, Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class, Lavelas Luckey, spotted the smoking Maxima and quickly rescued the child from the car. The child was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital where she is being treated for life threatening injuries.

Although the police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the accident, this story reminds of something that I was taught in my driver’s education course. The instructors taught us that when stopped waiting to make a turn off of a roadway, a driver should keep a vehicle’s wheels pointed forward until they begin to make the turn. If a car has its wheels turned in one direction or another and is struck from behind, the impact will force the car in the direction the front wheels are pointed.

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