Garbage trucks make regular appearances on Houston roads, often in residential neighborhoods. Unfortunately, the presence of large trucks increases the risk of a severe accident for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and even garbage collectors themselves. Due to the size and weight of these vehicles, injuries are more likely to be catastrophic or fatal than in a crash involving smaller vehicles.
The garbage truck accident lawyers at Sutliff & Stout have years of experience handling garbage truck accidents and have successfully taken on some of the biggest insurance companies in Houston. When it comes to fighting for justice, you need strong representation on your side. Our firm aims to provide nothing less than exceptional legal service.
Why Do Garbage Truck Accidents Occur in Houston?
Garbage truck accidents occur for several different reasons. Whether the contributing factors lead to a rear-end or underride accident, the consequences can be devastating for those affected. Here are some common contributing factors as to why garbage truck accidents happen in Houston.
Garbage collectors employed by private waste management companies or the government have a demanding job that is made more difficult under harsh weather conditions. There are certain companies that have policies intact to stop service during inclement weather; however, garbage truck drivers are still expected to perform operations in the rain, fog, snow, sleet, or wind. These adverse weather conditions reduce visibility and blow debris on the streets, making driving extremely dangerous.
Multi-stop or poor driving routes inevitably increase human error. Because garbage truck drivers have multiple stops, they’re often under a time crunch to get garbage collected. These frequent stops are for different homes and businesses in residential neighbors, tight alleys, and busy commercial areas. An accident can happen if a passenger vehicle is tailgating a truck driver or if a truck driver fails to signal appropriately. In addition, constant stops and starts can wear out brake pads over time, making it tougher for truck drivers to come to a complete stop.
Waste management companies and their employees are expected to maintain their trucks to prevent accidents from occurring. Without regular inspections and tune-ups, garbage trucks can have faulty brakes, broken headlights, or worn tires that increase the risk of a crash. Likewise, maintenance personnel are required to make adequate repairs and fully complete them.
Garbage truck drivers must obey traffic laws and regulations, just like any other driver. Garbage truck drivers engage in negligent driver behaviors when they:
- Fail to use turn signals
- Ignore traffic signs and signals
- Use cell phones
- Drink and drive
- Drive fatigued
When garbage truck drivers operate their trucks negligently, they endanger the lives of their coworkers, cyclists, pedestrians, and anyone else on the roads. Any of these negligent behaviors may result in a garbage truck driver’s liability for accident victims’ injuries.
Poorly designed and maintained roadways play a major role in garbage truck accidents. Garbage truck accidents can result from many factors, including:
- Missing guardrails
- Insufficient lighting
- Poor drainage systems
- Faded line markings
- Lack of warning signs
A combination of dangerous roads, negligent drivers, and bad weather conditions can prove to be tragic for all those involved. Unfortunately, determining whether a defective roadway design was the cause of your accident is not easy. It takes competent legal counsel to identify why your accident occurred and who is liable.
Liability in Garbage Truck Accidents in Houston
Determining the cause of your injuries is only half the battle. You still must establish who is liable for causing the accident, and this too depends on multiple factors. When your accident involves a large truck, there is a web of parties that may be liable, including:
- Truck driver: The driver of a garbage truck may be responsible if they fail to adhere to the rules of the road.
- Waste management company: The company may be liable for a truck driver’s negligence if the driver is acting within the scope of their work, or if the company cuts corners and violates trucking regulations.
- Government entity: The roadway is owned by the government and if they fail to properly maintain the roads, they can be held liable for the accident that occurred.
- Truck manufacturer: The truck manufacturer may hold liability if there is a defect in the truck parts or they failed to perform a thorough inspection
- Passenger driver: A passenger driver may be liable if they fail to follow the rules of the road and cause a truck driver to crash into you.
If more than one party is liable for your accident, the doctrine of joint and several liability becomes active. For instance, if a waste management company ignores an employee’s driving record and that employee’s reckless driving actions cause an accident to occur, then both parties will be independently liable for a specific percentage of the injuries you’ve endured.
Explore Your Options with Garbage Truck Accident Lawyers in Houston
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a garbage truck accident in Houston, the accident attorneys at Sutliff & Stout will help you explore your legal options. We will work diligently to ensure that all responsible parties are held accountable for their negligent actions. We recognize that you may feel overwhelmed with the legal process, especially when you’ve suffered an injury. That’s why we always strive to handle your case as efficiently as possible.
At Sutliff & Stout, our Board-Certified trial lawyers have significant knowledge and experience assisting those suffering from all types of catastrophic injuries, and we also represent families who have lost a loved one in a fatal garbage truck accident. There is nothing more important to us than enhancing access to justice and promoting accident victims’ civil rights. Call (713) 987-7111 or complete a contact form for a free, no-obligation case review.