Garbage trucks traverse Syracuse every day, picking up waste from homes in Eastwood, restaurants on Fayette Street, and countless other locations throughout the city. Dump trucks also navigate Syracuse roads, hauling loads of building materials to public and private construction sites citywide.
Few Syracuse residents give much thought to the potential dangers posed by those trucks—that is, until they get into an accident with one. In this blog post, we discuss dump and garbage trucks in Syracuse: the dangers they present, what you should do if you get hurt in an accident involving one, and how a lawyer can help get you compensation for your injuries.
The Hazards of Syracuse Dump and Garbage Trucks
Syracuse municipal garbage trucks, private waste hauling trucks, and construction dump trucks roll through Syracuse neighborhoods every day. The hazards that accompany them aren’t always obvious, so let’s take a look at a few of them.
Garbage trucks, in particular, stop frequently as they make their way through the streets of Syracuse. Drivers trailing those trucks face several hazards. If those drivers get distracted and stop paying attention to the road ahead, they could collide with the rear of a garbage truck that stops suddenly. If they grow frustrated by the slow pace of a garbage truck, they may also attempt an unsafe passing maneuver that could risk a head-on or sideswipe collision with another vehicle.
Garbage and dump trucks can have difficulty navigating narrow Syracuse neighborhood streets and can crowd out other vehicles, increasing the risk of an accident. A garbage or dump truck may stray into an opposing lane of traffic when turning a tight corner, or may simply take up too much space on a two-way street to allow opposing traffic to pass. In either event, the large size of a Syracuse garbage or dump truck, combined with the relatively narrow width of some city streets, makes for hazardous driving conditions and heightened accident risks.
Garbage trucks and dump trucks share a challenge with many other big trucks: large blind spots. According to New York law, trucks over 26,000 pounds must have convex mirrors installed that improve the driver’s ability to see what happens around him and decrease the risk of serious collisions. Dump trucks generally weigh in at an average of just over 26,000 pounds, which means that they need those convex mirrors to legally operate on Syracuse streets.
Even dump trucks weighing in under that limit, however, can still have large blind spots that hide nearby vehicles from a driver’s view and increase the risk of an accident. Pedestrians, in particular, should exercise care around dump trucks and garbage trucks to avoid the possibility that the driver does not see them.
Poor Weather Conditions
Syracuse sees an estimated 165 days of precipitation per year. It ranks above the national average for both snow (120 inches or more per year, on average, compared to the US average of 28 inches) and rain (41 inches per year, compared to the US average of 38). Precipitation affects the Syracuse climate year-round.
For garbage collectors, that means a lot of days when the weather can pose additional hazards while they take care of trash collection tasks. Bad weather or not, trash collection goes on. Snow, ice, and wet roads can make driving any truck treacherous, let alone a truck that needs to stop and start repeatedly on narrow streets that sometimes get less attention from road crews than major thoroughfares. The same goes for dump trucks, which serve Syracuse construction sites year-round.
Poor weather may also pose another challenge for garbage and dump truck drivers: bad weather slows everything down, which in turn can lead to drivers trying to move a little faster, and cutting a few corners a little too close, to stay on schedule. Even small increases in a garbage or dump truck’s speed on wet, snowy, or icy Syracuse roads can mean the difference between avoiding an accident and causing one.
Garbage and dump truck drivers spend a lot of hours behind the wheel every day. While many develop a great deal of experience navigating neighborhoods and finding their way to construction sites, that same familiarity with their routes can also lull them into a false sense of security.
Often, as they become more comfortable behind the wheel, dump and garbage truck drivers will allow themselves higher levels of distraction than they should. Some drivers may check their GPS devices or even try to program them while driving, particularly since that action might help save them some time.
Other drivers may use their cell phones, eat or drink behind the wheel, or allow themselves to get more invested in the conversations they have with their coworkers than in the drive. All of these distractions can increase the risk of an accident, because even a momentary lapse in attention can rob a driver of critical seconds in which to avoid a crash.
Distracted garbage and dump truck drivers can pose a particular hazard around pedestrians. A driver who gets distracted and fails to notice a pedestrian walking into or through a truck’s blind spot might make the tragic mistake of rolling forward, turning, or backing up directly into the pedestrian.
By design, dump trucks and garbage trucks have large openings to receive cargo. When a truck gets overfilled or when the container does not shut tight, that cargo—trash, building materials, and so forth—falls out and creates a hazard for others on the road. Large items can block travel lanes and cause secondary collisions. Smaller materials can make the road surface slippery or uneven. Even the smallest rocks and pebbles that fall from a dump truck on the highway can become hazardous projectiles that crack windshields and cause drivers to make sudden, potentially dangerous, evasive maneuvers.
Dump and garbage trucks have relatively high centers of gravity and carry loads that may shift, features that make them prone to tipping over. A garbage truck can roll over, for example, if it enters a turn at an intersection too fast, or cuts a corner too close and runs over a curb. Dump trucks face the highest tipping risks on construction sites, where the ground is uneven and potentially soft. A rollover of either type of truck will tend to result in a large mess at the very least, due to spilled cargo. It can also cause serious injuries, especially if a truck tips over onto a smaller vehicle or an unwary bystander.
What to Do After a Syracuse Dump Truck or Garbage Truck Accident
If you get injured in a Syracuse dump truck or garbage truck accident caused by someone else’s careless or reckless actions, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim. Following these tips may help protect your rights to seek compensation for your injuries and losses.
1. Report the accident.
When you call 911, make sure you let the dispatcher know about a garbage or dump truck’s involvement in the accident, since first responders may need to call out additional support to address any hazards caused by spilled garbage or cargo.
Always report an accident with a garbage truck, even if the truck driver tries to convince you not to. The law typically requires that you alert the authorities to an accident, and doing so ensures that an accident report will be written detailing what happened.
2. Seek medical attention for any injuries you may have sustained.
Some victims of Syracuse dump and garbage truck accidents suffer injuries that are impossible to ignore the moment they happen: broken bones, severe lacerations, and the like. Others, however, may suffer serious injuries that do not always show symptoms right away, such as traumatic brain injuries or even spinal cord injuries. Accident victims in the latter category may feel okay in the minutes after an accident, but in reality, they may need immediate medical attention to avoid life-threatening health complications.
That is why, no matter how well you feel after getting into an accident with a garbage truck or dump truck in Syracuse, you should always seek medical treatment right away. Let an EMT check you over at the scene and go to the emergency room if the EMT recommends it. Even if you get an all-clear from the EMT, go see your regular doctor or visit an urgent care clinic within 24 hours. Trained medical professionals can spot and begin treating conditions you might not otherwise notice until your condition has significantly worsened.
Seeking medical care protects your health. It also ensures that records exist of the injuries you sustained in an accident, which may come in handy for your attorney in a later legal action seeking compensation for the harm you suffered.
3. Contact an experienced Syracuse truck accident lawyer.
You have no time to lose in contacting an experienced lawyer after getting hurt in an accident in Syracuse involving a dump truck or garbage truck. Rules applicable to taking legal action against a municipal entity could give you only a short window to seek compensation for your injuries and losses. By contacting an attorney, you can make sure you will not miss important deadlines and that the attorney will have the best possible chance to collect evidence to build a strong case.
Who Is Liable for Syracuse Garbage and Dump Truck Accidents?
One important task a skilled attorney usually handles for injured victims of a Syracuse dump or garbage truck accident is to identify the party or parties who may have a legal obligation to pay damages to the victims. Experienced lawyers know that a careful examination of the evidence can uncover facts that point to liability that might not have been obvious at first.
Every Syracuse garbage truck and dump truck accident differs. However, the parties who may owe damages to victims can often include:
- A municipal trash hauling entity
- A private trash hauling company
- A construction contractor
- The individual driver of the truck that crashes
- The manufacturer of or maintenance contractor for a truck or truck equipment that fails and causes an accident
- A municipal road agency that fails to design, build, or maintain roads safe for trash and dump trucks
- Individuals who dispose of hazardous materials in their trash, resulting in a dangerous condition (such as an explosion) that causes a truck accident
- Other motorists who share the road with dump and garbage trucks and whose dangerous actions behind the wheel lead to a crash.
This is not a complete list, of course. Every case deserves the careful attention of a skilled lawyer to determine who may owe damages to injured victims.
Potential Damages for Syracuse Dump and Garbage Truck Accidents
An experienced attorney can also help injured truck accident victims recover compensation for their injuries and losses.
Again, every case is different, but through legal action, an attorney can often secure compensation for a victim’s:
- Current and future medical costs arising from the injuries and any health complications they cause
- Other current and future expenses related to the accident or living with an injury
- Current and future lost wages and income due to the victim missing work or becoming unable to work
- Pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life due to the accident and the injures it caused
The amount of compensation potentially available varies based on a wide variety of factors, including the severity and impact of the victim’s injuries, the strength of the evidence, and the funds the liable party has available with which to pay damages. A skilled lawyer works closely with victims to identify all ways in which they have suffered harm, for which they deserve money damages.
Did you suffer serious injuries in a garbage truck or dump truck accident in Syracuse? If so, you may have the right to receive substantial compensation. Contact a Syracuse truck accident lawyer today for your free consultation.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.