Articles Posted in Garbage Truck Accidents

Most people who live in the city and don’t venture out onto the highway rarely encounter large trucks on the road. For the most part, semi-truck, tractor-trailers, and other big trucks don’t have the need to travel into neighborhoods. However, the one type of truck that almost everyone comes across is a garbage truck. Garbage trucks are just as dangerous as other large commercial vehicles, and in some ways, can be even more dangerous. Recently, a pedestrian accident involving a garbage truck claimed a woman’s life.

According to a local news report, the accident occurred just before 8 a.m. on garbage day. Evidently, the victim – a 69-year-old woman – was taking out the trash when she stepped onto the curb and into the truck’s blind spot. The truck driver did not notice the woman in the road, striking her. She was later pronounced dead.

The driver, who worked for a privately-owned company that provides trash and recycling pick-up services on behalf of the city—remained on the scene, and police officers do not suspect that they were intoxicated. Police officers are currently investigating the accident to determine its potential causes.

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When most people think about Maryland truck accidents, they picture semi-trucks on highways, getting into crashes with cars or other vehicles on the road. While these types of crashes do occur with some frequency, it is important to remember they are not the only type of Maryland truck accident to be on the lookout for. Sometimes truck accidents can happen where you least expect them to—like in a quiet neighborhood.

For example, take a recent close call with a garbage truck, as it drove through a Florida neighborhood. According to a recent news report, a 7-year-old boy was playing in his grandmother’s yard when he decided to hide inside of her garbage can. Moments later, the garbage truck arrived, and the garbage can was picked up and the boy was tossed into the bed of the truck with the collected trash. The boy would have been killed had it not been for the quick thinking of the driver, who has been working as a sanitation worker for 11 years and spotted the boy immediately falling into the truck via his camera. He said that he and other drivers in the county are trained to look at the cameras to avoid incidents, because there are so many blind spots while driving a garbage truck. As soon as he saw what happened, he quickly stopped the truck and rescued the boy, making sure he was not crushed. After the boy was safely out, he told the local news station that he was scared when the can was picked up—“I think I was most scared about me turning into apple sauce or fruit punch.”

Fortunately, this near-fatal accident was only a close call, and no one was actually hurt or injured. But the incident highlights how Maryland truck accidents can happen almost anywhere, and when people least expect them. No one really expects that the garbage truck coming through the neighborhood could lead to the tragic death of a child, but unfortunately it is possible. While Maryland residents should always make sure that their children do not climb into their garbage cans—especially on trash pickup day—there may be other unexpected truck accidents that they are unable to avoid. In those unfortunate circumstances, nothing can undo the damage that has been done. However, state law does allow those injured—or those who lose a loved one—to file a personal injury suit to recover monetarily. While this is obviously no substitute for avoiding an accident in the first place, the lawsuits can at least help families financially while they recover.

Maryland truck accident cases are subject to the statute of limitations applicable in the case. The statute of limitations is the amount of time in which a lawsuit must be filed and varies based on the type of claim. Generally, under Maryland Code section 5-101, Maryland personal injury claims have a statute of limitations of three years. Typically, Maryland wrongful death claims also are subject to a three-year statute of limitations under Maryland Code section 3-904(g).

In general, statutes of limitations are strictly construed, and failing to file a claim within the allotted time will result in a dismissal of the claim. However, there are some exceptions. The statute may be tolled, for example, if the plaintiff if a minor or could not have known about the injury when it occurred.

In cases involving the city or state, additional requirements and limitations apply. For example, when filing a claim against the state under the Maryland Tort Claims Act, a claimant must submit a written claim with the State Treasurer within one year of the cause of action arising. The claim to the state also has to include a statement explaining the facts and specific damages alleged. In general, the case can be filed in court only after the Treasurer denies the claim. Filing a claim with the State Treasurer tolls the statute of limitations for 60 days after a final denial is made by the State Treasurer.

Individuals who suffer injuries because of the negligence of a government entity or employee must overcome challenges to file a personal injury lawsuit against the government. Maryland injury victims must understand the Maryland Tort Claims Act (MTCA) if they want to recover damages for their injuries successfully.

Historically, citizens have not been permitted to sue government agencies or employees. However, in an attempt to address the inherent unfairness of this archaic rule, state lawmakers enacted the MTCA to provide Maryland injury victims with some recourse against negligent government actors. The MTCA covers various Maryland state and government employees, as long as they are paid by the Central Payroll Bureau of the Treasury. Additionally, the statute covers county, city, and local government employees and entities, such as the Maryland Transportation Authority, local employees who work for social services, judges in some courts, and sheriffs in Baltimore City.

Maryland accident victims must comply with the statute to avoid dismissal. For example, an appellate court in another jurisdiction recently dismissed a plaintiff’s lawsuit against the government. In that case, the victim rear-ended a stopped waste removal truck while the truck was on the side of the highway. The victim filed a lawsuit against the municipality, alleging that the truck driver was negligent. The appellate court found that the plaintiff did not establish negligence and failed to comply with the state’s torts claims act.

Earlier this month, a Maryland traffic accident involving a garbage truck sent two workers to the hospital. According to a recent news report, the collision occurred during a regular trash pick-up, when the driver of the truck moved over in an attempt to let oncoming traffic pass. At the time, two workers were holding onto the back of the truck, collecting trash in a residential neighborhood.

Evidently, as the truck moved to the side of the road, one of the truck’s tires slipped off the road, causing the truck to glance a utility pole. After the initial collision, the worker riding on the passenger side of the truck slammed into the pole. The other worker also fell from the truck. When police arrived, they found both men seriously injured. One worker was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital, and admitted with life-threatening injuries. The other worker was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and is expected to recover from their injuries.

Law enforcement believes that the cause of the accident was driver error because the truck failed to remain in its lane of travel. A police investigation is underway; however, speed is not believed to be a factor, and drugs or alcohol are not thought to be involved in the crash.

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.

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