Trucks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Each type of truck requires unique driving skills and may be prone to certain types of accidents. For example, 18-wheelers and huge commercial trucks that transport goods throughout Tennessee and across the country are prone to rollovers, jackknives, and wide-turn accidents. When commercial trucks are involved in accidents, they can cause havoc across several lanes of traffic – especially if cargo spills.
Two smaller types of trucks that may cause death or catastrophic injuries in the event of a collision are dump trucks and garbage trucks. Homeowners and business owners are likely to see both types of commercial vehicles in their own communities. Both types of trucks can be found on highways and main roads as well as local streets and back roads. Both types of trucks pick up materials from one location and unload them at another location, and both use hydraulic lifts to empty their loads, but their differences are important.
Dump trucks generally carry items used for small construction projects or for other reasons. A standard dump truck has an open bed that is equipped with hydraulic lifts that allow the material in the truck to be released. They come in a variety of sizes and lengths and may release materials to the side or rear of the truck. Some drivers use tarps to cover the tops of their trucks.
Garbage trucks, as the name suggests, are used to pick up garbage at homes, apartments, businesses, and other sites. The trucks also rely on hydraulics to compact the garbage/waste. The container that holds the garbage is usually enclosed. Garbage trucks also have lifts that enable the drivers to lift whole containers (the units where people place their trash) and then deposit the trash into the bed of the dump truck from the side, rear, or front. Garbage trucks are also designed to ultimately dump the contents of their vehicles into landfills, recycling centers, and other locations.
Why are dump trucks and garbage trucks dangerous?
Both dump trucks and garbage trucks pose unique types of dangers for other drivers on the road. These dangers include:
- Excessive amount of weight. When a dump truck or garbage truck collides with a car or motorcycle, the smaller vehicle will take most of the force, which can cause death or serious injuries. The size and dimensions of these trucks also make it hard for car drivers to see around the trucks.
- Lack of maneuverability. These trucks often require more stopping distance than passenger cars. They’re more difficult to control because of their dimensions, weight, and center of gravity. The center of gravity shift is different for loaded trucks and unloaded trucks.
- Wider dimensions. Garbage trucks and dump trucks often take up the whole lane, and some may encroach on the lanes next to them. This makes it hard for other drivers to pass these trucks and can increase the risk of a sideswipe accident. Merging and turning is also more difficult for dump trucks and garbage trucks.
- Driver inexperience. Drivers need special training to operate a dump truck or garbage truck on the roads and at the sites where they pick up and unload material. Drivers of dump trucks or garbage trucks may even require a commercial driver’s license.
What types of accidents do dump trucks and garbage trucks cause?
Like all vehicles, drivers of dump trucks and garbage trucks may cause an accident if they speed, if they drive while distracted, if they drive while tired, or if they’re negligent in other ways. Common accidents include rear-end collisions, broadside accidents, and head-on crashes. Some of the accident types that are especially common for dump trucks and garbage trucks are:
- Blindspot accidents. Like most trucks, dump trucks and garbage trucks have blind spots which prevent the driver from seeing traffic near the truck – including the sides, rear, and front. Drivers of these trucks need to be especially careful when turning, merging, or changing lanes.
- Sideswipe accidents. Because these trucks are fairly wide and the trucks often travel on local roads with fewer lanes and smaller lanes, dump trucks and garbage trucks are likely to collide with vehicles in other lanes even when the truck driver stays in the same lane. If a dump truck or garbage truck collides with the side of a car or motorcycle, the consequences can be deadly or catastrophic.
- Rollover accidents. Unlike items that can be boxed or easily contained, much of the cargo that dump trucks carry can easily move and spill. There’s no easy way to package sand, gravel, and other construction debris. Unbalanced and shifting loads increase the chances the driver may lose control causing the truck to tip over. The center of gravity, especially in garbage trucks, is quite high – which also increases the odds of a rollover.
- Cargo spills. Other drivers on the road face dangers if the cargo spills from the trucks. The debris from dump trucks may fly into the windshields of a nearby driver, cracking or even penetrating the glass. It can scatter on the ground, and other vehicles’ tires can lose traction. Loose cargo can cause a multi-car accident if one driver attempts to swerve away from the cargo and ends up in another lane.
Who is liable for a Memphis car accident involving a dump or garbage truck?
Most dump trucks and garbage trucks are owned by commercial companies. This means that if a driver causes an accident, the owners of the trucks are also likely defendants. Third parties may also be liable if, for example, one company hires out the truck for specific cleanup purposes. The state may also be liable if it contracted with a waste management company to do the municipal cleanup.
This means the following people and companies may be liable for your injuries or the death of a loved one:
- The driver
- The company that owns the truck
- A company that hires the truck or arranges for the truck
- A governmental entity
At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our Memphis truck accident lawyers represent families of loved ones killed in truck accidents. We represent anyone who suffers a serious injury such as a brain injury, spinal cord damage, or broken bones. We’ve been fighting for truck accident victims for more than 30 years. To schedule a free appointment, call our seasoned Memphis and Jackson lawyers at 901-475-7434 or fill out our contact form.
Since graduating magna cum laude in 2005 from the University of Memphis School of Law, Thomas has helped make a difference in the lives of victims of serious personal injury, wrongful death, and professional negligence. Thomas has extensive trial experience in both state and federal court. Among other victories in the courtroom, Thomas obtained several impressive jury verdicts and settlements
Read more about Thomas R. Greer