Yes, depending on the circumstances, if you got into an accident with a garbage truck, you can sue to recover damages for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and damage to your property.
However, to prevail, you will need a detailed analysis of the factors that led to the crash to determine which party or parties were liable for the damage. The legal team at Coffey Trial Law can help you research and review the unique facts in your case and help you establish liability.
Whom can I sue for my garbage truck accident?
When it comes to determining the cause of an accident with a commercial vehicle, such as a garbage truck, a number of parties could be at fault. These parties can include:
The driver: If a driver is not exercising caution on the road, accidents can happen. While he may be personally liable in some cases, if the driver is an employee (not an independent contractor), the company that owns the truck will likely be the liable party.
This is because, under the theory of vicarious liability, employers are responsible for their employees’ actions so long as the employee acted in the scope of his employment. For example, if the driver was speeding, driving under the influence, texting while driving, or otherwise driving carelessly, the garbage truck company is likely liable.
The company that owns the garbage truck: If the vehicle was not properly serviced or maintained, then you may have a claim against the company that owns the truck involved in the collision.
The company might also be liable if it hired a driver without a commercial license or failed to complete a background check.
Your county or city: Dangerous roadways can also lead to collisions. If the accident was the result of a blind curve without proper warning signs, faulty traffic signals, poor road maintenance, or a lack of roadway signs, then the city or county responsible for road maintenance may be liable.
Some garbage truck fleets are also run by the city or county that they service, so the city may also be liable as the owners of the vehicle in question.
The truck manufacturer or a parts manufacturer: If your accident was the result of faulty equipment or parts, a dangerous design flaw, or condition created by the original manufacturer, then you may have a products liability claim against the manufacturer who created the faulty product. Product liability claims in Florida are typically broken into three categories:
- Design defects: flaws in the design of the products or their parts
- Manufacturing defects: a mistake during manufacturing that creates a dangerous or defective product
- Marketing defects: false marketing claims, such as a product that is marketed to provide traction on wet roadways that does no such thing, failure to warn of a danger associated with the product, etc.
What are my legal remedies?
If a garbage truck struck you or your car in Fort Lauderdale or the surrounding areas, and you can prove the accident was the fault of one of the parties described above (or another driver), you are entitled to seek compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages as a result of hospitalization, rehab, disability, and property damage, such as damage to your vehicle or its contents.
To be eligible to recover compensation for noneconomic damages, you must prove you suffered a serious injury. Under Florida Statute § 627.737, your injury must typically have one of the following characteristics:
- It caused a serious, permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- It resulted in a permanent injury, other than scarring or disfigurement.
- It caused significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- It resulted in death.
What should I do if I got into an accident with a garbage truck?
While personal vehicle collisions often result in serious injury, garbage truck accidents, which involve vehicles that often weigh 10,000 pounds or more, can be far more devastating — resulting in wrongful death, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injuries, or permanent disabilities.
If a garbage truck struck you, once you have addressed your emergency medical needs, and if you are able to do so safely, you should:
- Gather as much information as you can about the driver, including his complete name and license information (e.g., type, number, etc.) (Take a picture of it if you can.)
- Gather the information about the truck’s owner, including the type of insurance held by the company and the policy number
- Take photographs, if possible. Try to shoot as many images as you can of the accident and surrounding scene, taking note of such things as skid marks (or a lack thereof, to show that the driver did not attempt to stop), showing whether the driver had a clear and unobstructed view, and showing the position of the vehicles in the accident.
- Get a copy of the official police report, as well as the names and badge numbers of the responding officers.
If there were witnesses, gather their names and contact information, and ask them if they would be willing to provide a statement about what they saw. These tools will help your attorney to piece together the facts in your case and determine what parties were negligent in causing the accident. If your injuries did not allow you to complete any of the above steps, our investigative team will gather all the evidence necessary to prove your case.
Once our team has gathered the necessary evidence, one of our garbage truck accident attorneys will review the facts in your case and work to provide you with a strategy that will hold the truly negligent party at fault for the injuries and property damage that this type of serious accident can cause you.
Call Coffey Trial Law for a FREE consultation.
Coffey Trial Law understands how confusing and overwhelming Florida insurance law can be. We know that victims of commercial garbage truck accidents are likely facing the heavy burden of high medical costs and lost income, so we offer free consultations and representation on a contingency basis meaning that we only collect a fee if you win your case. Call us today to speak with a truck accident lawyer and learn about your options: 954-541-3194.