Garbage trucks perform an essential service. They remove and handle waste from people’s homes and businesses across Georgia. Even though these trucks serve an important role, when a large vehicle like that is handled negligently, particularly on residential roads, it can pose a significant and sometimes life-threatening risk. Moreover, if you are injured as a result of the negligence of a garbage truck operator and your claim is not handled properly by an experienced attorney, it could be thrown out no matter how reckless the truck driver may have been.
Ante Litem Notice
In Georgia most trash collection is handled by county or city governments. If you are injured by a government vehicle, Georgia law lets you pursue a claim against them, but you must follow certain rules. If the garbage truck is run by a county government, you must give the county notice of your claim, using a very specific format, within 12 months. If the garbage truck is run by a city, you only have 6 months! This notice is called ante litem notice and if it is done incorrectly or even one day late, you will forever lose your right to make a claim no matter how injured you are or how negligently the truck driver acted.
Types of Garbage Trucks in Metro Atlanta
In metro Atlanta, there are a variety of garbage trucks, ranging from small commercial vehicles to very large trucks for heavy loads. Solid Waste Services may use small box trucks, rear-loading garbage vehicles (with workers on the outside of the truck), front-loading garbage trucks with large forklifts, and 18-wheeler semi-trucks that carry compacted trash to the landfill. Each type of truck poses different potential hazards.
What Causes Garbage Truck Accidents
On average, a garbage truck weighs about 64,000 pounds whereas passenger vehicles only weigh about 3,000 pounds. When a vehicle the size and weight of a garbage truck collides with a passenger vehicle, motorcycle, bicycle, or a pedestrian, the results can be devastating. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 1,400 people are injured and 100 killed every year in accidents involving a garbage trucks.
As garbage trucks typically operate on residential roads, many of these accidents happen on surface streets and in neighborhoods. Some of the most common causes of garbage truck accidents include:
- Failure to use turn signals
- Frequent, abrupt, or unpredictable stops
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Going the wrong way on a one-way street
- Poor maneuverability
- Faulty backup signals
- Mechanical issues
- Defective brakes
- Rollover accidents
- Careless or distracted driving
- Intoxicated drivers
- Drivers who are not properly trained or qualified
Who is Responsible for a Garbage Truck Accident?
In 2015 Georgia passed a new law for garbage trucks as a companion to the bill requiring drivers to “move over” for emergency workers and law enforcement vehicles. Georgia law requires drivers to approach sanitation vehicles with “due caution” and to move over to an adjacent lane whenever possible.
While this law provides an important safety measure to protect santitation workers, there has been some misinformation regarding its enforcement. Many garbage truck operators believe that other motorists must yield to them in all situations. This assumption is false. The “move over” requirement only applies when the garbage truck is in the process of trash collection. When a garbage truck is driving on a road in between collections, it is subject to the same traffic laws as everyone else. When garbage truck drivers are not trained properly on this distinction there is a higher risk of negligent conduct that can cause injury to other motorists or pedestrians.
Have Questions? Contact Burrow & Associates
If you are in an accident with a garbage truck, you should seek medical help immediately. Next, you want to work with a garbage truck accident attorney who will investigate the accident and work quickly to preserve any evidence. At Burrow & Associates, our experienced personal injury attorneys will deal with the garbage truck owners, government agencies, and the insurance companies while you focus on your recovery. If you have additional questions about garbage truck accidents or want to set a consultation to discuss your case, call (678) 323-2394 or use our online contact page. We have six offices conveniently located throughout metro Atlanta, and we offer free initial consultations.