Glendale Garbage Truck Accident Lawyers
With a county as large as Los Angeles, it is not uncommon to see massive garbage trucks winding through our crowded neighborhoods. You may instinctively lower your speed and give them a wide berth when driving past them, and you are right to do so. These heavy, massive vehicles can cause serious accidents, even if they do not hit you. Cargo, such as old furniture, can fall loose and strike nearby vehicles if workers do not secure them. But, however your injuries occurred, if a garbage truck driver is responsible, you may be able to recover compensation in a personal injury claim.
This is easier said than done. Almost all garbage trucks in the county are managed by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (LACSD), and even independent contractors may have some government immunity in an accident. However, you should not give up hope. As complex as these cases are, the team at Aghabegian & Associates, PC, is prepared to handle your claim. Our Glendale garbage truck accident attorneys can launch an in-depth investigation into the driver who injured you and advocate for full compensation for your injuries. To discuss your case in more detail, call our office at (818) 507-4311 to schedule a free consultation.
Like any other large truck, garbage trucks must be operated by experienced drivers who know how to handle these vehicles carefully. Even when they are empty, trash trucks are extremely heavy, which means they need additional time to come to a complete stop. Their height and length also increase the size of their blind spots, making it difficult for untrained or distracted drivers to see cars directly behind them or near their back tires. All this to say that drivers must be careful when picking up garbage throughout LA’s complex residential streets.
Sadly, many drivers become complacent after driving the same route week after week. This may cause them to be easily distracted by phones, fatigued after working long hours in the early morning, or otherwise reckless when driving. They may also be rushed to complete a route, which can lead to them speeding or making dangerous turns.
Lastly, there is the issue of the actual cargo they are hauling. While most county-run garbage trucks properly seal trash into the hopper, or back, of the truck, the cranes used to empty trash bins into the hopper must be used carefully. Garbage truck drivers should make sure there are no pedestrians, cyclists, or joggers nearby who could be struck by the vehicle’s equipment.
In addition, hauling vehicles run by independent contractors are another story altogether. These drivers often use modified pickup trucks to haul equipment on-demand, and pickup trucks are rarely as secure as your standard garbage truck. Haulers also tend to overload their vehicles, making it harder for them to come to a complete stop and putting other drivers at risk of being hit by loose cargo.
Garbage truck accidents are often the result of poor driving habits. Drivers should be trained, certified, and experienced at hauling trash and operating large vehicles. When inexperienced or reckless drivers are allowed behind the wheel of one of these vehicles, they put everyone on the road at risk.
The common trash truck accidents we see throughout LA County and the San Fernando Valley include:
- Sideswipe collisions caused by drivers failing to check their blind spots
- Drivers speeding through intersections
- Trucks backing into other vehicles
- Pedestrians and cyclists behind being hit by the truck’s claw
- Cargo and debris falling out of the vehicle
- T-bone collisions with other vehicles on cross-streets
If you were injured by a garbage truck driver, then you are well within your right to file a claim for compensation. However, because many of these vehicles are operated by the LACSD, this process is more complex. While auto accident claims against private citizens or corporations have a two-year statute of limitations, government vehicle claims must be filed within 180 days (six months) of the date of the accident. This means you should contact an attorney immediately to get started on the claims process.
To complete their duties, trash truck drivers have several exceptions to the rules of the road when operating in California. For one, these vehicles are allowed to block bicycle lanes and driveways in order to pick up trash. They are also not required to drive on the right side of the road, which is why it is common to see them drive on either side on an unmarked side street.
However, drivers are still expected to abide by some of the same rules as anyone else on the road, and their vehicles also have a few additional requirements, including:
- Both front turn signals must be flashing when picking up garbage
- An alarm must go off when the vehicle is reversing
- Vehicles made after 2010 must have rear-facing cameras
While Los Angeles County has a robust waste removal department that operates numerous trash trucks across a variety of neighborhoods, the Bureau of Street Services has contracted some of its hauling services to independent contractors. In order to work with the Bureau as a hauler, drivers are required to have California Class A/B Commercial Driver’s Licenses, pass a drug and alcohol test and California Highway Patrol Inspection, have liability insurance, and acquire other permits from the DMV.
Drivers are only allowed to use the following types of vehicles when hauling:
- 3- to 4-axle dump truck with a 15-ton minimum loading capacity
- 5-axle semi-truck trailer high-side or low-side with a 20.7-ton minimum legal load capacity
- Live bottom trailer (non-dumping) with a truck tractor
If you were injured by a driver working under this program, then you may be in a complex legal position. As independent contractors, these drivers may have their own liability insurance policies that cover the accident, but they are also considered an extension of the government. You may be required to file a government vehicle accident claim under the rules of the California Tort Claim Act. But, if the driver is operating independently of this program, then you may be able to file a standard auto accident claim. To determine what type of claim you can file, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Given how dangerous trash trucks can be when operated by reckless drivers, it is no wonder how deadly these accidents are. The sheer size and weight of these vehicles can injure other vehicle occupants and pedestrians, even at low speeds. After such an accident, you may be left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and no clear way to pay them.
However, if you work with a Glendale truck accident attorney at Aghabegian & Associates, PC, our team of legal experts can guide you through the claims process. We have over 40 years of combined experience and can determine the best course of action. If you or someone you love was injured by a garbage truck in LA County, call our office at (818) 507-4311 to speak to an attorney in a free consultation.
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