The sheer size and design of garbage trucks make them particularly hazardous vehicles on the road. Being hit by a garbage truck can cause catastrophic damage and injuries. Suppose you or someone you love was recently injured in a trash truck accident and are contemplating filing a lawsuit. In that case, you might wonder: Who is liable for a garbage truck accident in Texas? Some responsible parties, such as the garbage company and the truck driver, will be apparent. However, there can potentially be several other individuals or entities liable for your damages. Because every situation is unique, we recommend scheduling a consultation with one of our lawyers to discuss who might specifically be accountable in your case. However, we discuss typical accident liability for a garbage truck collision below.
Potential Defendants in a Garbage Truck Accident
One or more potential defendants may be in a garbage truck collision case. These people and entities can include the following:
- The garbage truck driver;
- The private waste collection company that owns the truck and employs the driver;
- The trash truck manufacturers, including parts manufacturers;
- The service center or mechanic; and
- A government agency, if the municipality or city conducts waste collection.
Several of these parties can be liable simultaneously. Your attorney will discuss which parties to name as defendants in your lawsuit.
Municipalities handle trash collection differently. Some own the trucks and provide the service to collect garbage from residents. Others hire outside private contractors for trash collection. If the city or local municipality is responsible for trash collection, pursuing a claim against them for damages can be more challenging. However, it is not impossible under certain circumstances. Under the Texas Tort Claims Act, there are certain conditions to liability for government agencies. Your attorney can discuss this in greater detail if it applies to you.
Common Causes of Garbage Truck Accidents
There are many potential causes of a garbage truck accident. Many of these would be the same for any motor vehicle accident, including speeding, distracted driving, and failure to obey traffic signals. However, there are a handful of reasons for trash truck collisions that are unique to garbage trucks.
The sheer size, weight, and design of garbage trucks create visibility issues because of the large trash container, slow stop times, and harsh impacts.
Examples of common causes of garbage truck accidents include:
- Poor center of gravity (i.e., top-heavy trucks),
- Poor load distribution,
- Impaired driving,
- Driver error or unqualified drivers, and
- Large blind spots caused by the waste container of the truck
While the drivers themselves can be solely responsible for many of these causes, it is possible for the company, owner, or municipality themselves to also be held liable for the driver’s negligence.
For instance, if the trash collection company negligently hires an unqualified driver by failing to conduct adequate background and driving record checks, they can be held accountable for the injuries and damages caused by a crash.
Modified Comparative Negligence and Texas Garbage Truck Accident Claims
If you or a loved one is hurt in a garbage truck accident, you must not admit any fault for the cause of the accident. This includes avoiding making potentially incriminating statements to the other driver, the responding police officer, and the trash company’s insurance carrier.
Why Is This So Important?
Texas is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that an accident victim’s damages can be reduced by their percentage of fault. In other words, if an accident victim is found to have no responsibility for the collision and a jury awards them $200,000 in damages, they are entitled to a total of $200,000 in compensation. However, if the accident victim is found to be 25% at fault, their award will be reduced by $50,000. For example, if the driver illegally tried to pass the garbage truck and that contributed to the crash, they are likely, at least, partially responsible. Importantly, you cannot seek damages if you are more than 50% responsible for the crash.
Texas Garbage Truck Accident Lawyers
If you have questions about liability in a Texas garbage truck accident and want to know who you can pursue a claim against, we are here to help. We have the knowledge, resources, and experience necessary to help you succeed. In 2021, our founding partner, Austin Hartley, was named one of the Top Ten Attorneys by the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.