What To Do When Hit by a Garbage Truck

Last updated on: March 9, 2021


Despite their vigilance, drivers may overlook garbage trucks, often having grown accustomed to their presence on the road. However, garbage trucks may pose an even greater danger, as they are found in many areas other large trucks would traditionally avoid, such as residential neighborhoods or backstreets, and may make frequent stops along their route.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a garbage truck, you should contact the personal injury lawyers from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.


In 2017, there were over 2,400 accidents involving garbage trucks across the United States, with the majority resulting in injuries, while the most serious garbage truck accidents also tragically resulted in 107 deaths. Just like 18 wheelers and other commercial trucks, garbage trucks are large, heavy trucks, often with complex mechanisms to aid with the retrieval and storage of garbage.

As with most large trucks, their size and weight require them to have longer distances and additional time to stop than passenger vehicles. Further, the garbage truck may have blind spots within which the driver is unable to perceive the presence of other motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians who may be present. A garbage truck’s primary duty is the collection and transportation of garbage, and this may mean the truck will generally make frequent stops. Vehicles attempting to pass a stopped garbage truck must take special care to ensure it is safe and legal to do so. Drivers should also take care when behind garbage trucks, as loose trash and debris may fall from the truck.

Hit by a Garbage Truck | Zinda Law Group

Courtesy of James Day


1. Seek Medical Attention

The first thing you should do after any accident is to immediately seek medical attention for any injuries you may have sustained as a result of the accident. You should be checked out by a physician even if you do not have any obvious injuries, as some types of injuries, such as internal bleeding, may not readily be visible or noticeable. Internal injuries can be serious and even life-threatening, especially if not immediately diagnosed and treated.

2. Report the Accident

Once you have sought medical attention, you should also report the accident to the proper law enforcement authorities, which may be local police, sheriff, or highway patrol, depending on where the accident occurred. Once law enforcement arrives, they will likely collect information to complete an accident report, which will include information on the vehicles and people involved as well as details of the accident. This report may be critical to pursuing an insurance claim against the garbage truck company or the municipality or government that operates the garbage truck.

3. Gather Evidence

It is crucial you gather as much evidence as possible after the accident. You should take photos or video of any injuries you or any passengers may have sustained, the vehicles, and the area surrounding the scene of the accident as well. If there are any witnesses to the accident, be sure to collect their contact information. You should also be sure to note the company or municipality that operates the garbage truck.

4. Consult an Attorney

While there are numerous things to do when you have been hit by a garbage truck, you should consult a garbage truck accident attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Determining liability can be a complicated process, and the insurance company will often have teams of lawyers dedicated to working to ensure the insurer pays as little as possible to settle any potential claims. A lawyer may be able to help you seek any compensation you may be entitled to for any injuries and damages you or a loved one suffered in the accident.


Garbage Truck Driver

Garbage truck drivers must generally follow the same set of standards required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as any other commercial truck driver. If the driver failed to comply with these regulations, such as by driving for too many hours without rest, the driver may be liable for the accident. Further, if the driver drove recklessly, such as by speeding or driving distracted, or was responsible for any other driver error, the driver may also be liable for the accident.

Government or Municipality

If the garbage truck is owned and operated by a local government or municipality, it may be liable if their garbage truck causes an accident. Further, if the crash occurred because of defects in the roadway, such as potholes, poor road design, inadequate warning signs, or other conditions caused by failure by the local governmental entity to properly maintain the roadways, the local government may be at least partially liable for your accident.

Corporation or Company That Owns the Garbage Truck

If the garbage truck is privately owned and operated by a corporation or company, it may be liable in the event of an accident caused by its garbage truck. The company may be liable for the negligent hiring of a driver with a history of traffic citations or accidents as well as for failing to properly maintain and provide proper maintenance on the garbage truck.


Liability for garbage truck accidents is often determined by proving four elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Each of these four elements must generally be proven to determine liability.

Duty of Care

Duty of care is an obligation the at-fault party owed to the victim to behave in a certain manner such as to take precautions to prevent an accident from occurring. A garbage truck driver has a duty of care to ensure they remain focused on the road and not drive while distracted, for example.

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty occurs when a driver fails to meet the applicable standard of care. If a garbage truck driver pays attention to their phone while driving or fails to signal when turning or stopping, the driver may have his or her duty of care.


Once it has been established the at-fault party owed the victim a duty of care and breached this duty, it must be proven this breach of duty was the proximate cause of the accident. This means that if not for the breach of duty, the accident would not have happened. For example, if the driver of the garbage truck had not been looking at his phone, he may have noticed the light had turned red and safely slowed down rather than rear-ending the victim.


Finally, it must be proven the victim suffered injuries and/or property damage in the accident. If you are filing a wrongful death claim after a loved one has been killed in an accident, damages are typically assumed to exist.

Read More: How to Calculate the Value of a Case


If you are injured in a garbage truck accident, you may be able to file a claim for compensation against the liable party, usually the business or government entity that operates the garbage truck.

1. Consult an Attorney

A garbage truck accident lawyer may be able to help you determine who is liable for the accident and help you seek compensation. An experienced garbage truck attorney may be able to use their familiarity with this type of case to navigate the complexities often involved when seeking compensation from a business or government entity.  

2. Investigation

Once the services of an attorney have been acquired, your attorney may then begin to investigate your claim. This may involve examining the scene of the accident, medical billing, and contacting witnesses who may have seen the accident occur. The information your attorney gathers during this investigation may help them to determine who may be liable and to build a case to support your claim for compensation.  

3. Negotiation

After your attorney has gathered the necessary facts and evidence regarding your case, they may then submit a claim to the insurer for compensation. Your attorney may be able to use the evidence gathered during the course of the investigation to convince the insurer that if the case were to go to trial, the insurer would likely lose. If an amount of compensation can be agreed upon by both parties, a trial may be avoided, and a settlement may be reached.

4. Trial

If a settlement cannot be reached, your case may go to trial. In this event, your attorney may represent you during the trial. Your attorney may then be able to use the evidence gathered during their investigation to present your case to the jury. If your case does go to trial, the jury will decide if you will receive compensation and the amount of compensation to be awarded. 


Medical Expenses

This compensation may cover costs related to medical treatment required to treat injuries you may have sustained as a result of the accident. It may include compensation for emergency room visits, diagnostics, treatment, hospital stays, medication, emergency transportation, and therapy. If you have injuries that require ongoing treatment, you may be able to receive compensation for future medical expenses as well.

Property Damage

You may be able to claim compensation for the damage done to your vehicle caused by the accident. The compensation may cover the cost to repair the damage, or if the vehicle is totaled and beyond repair, you may be able to claim the fair market value of the vehicle.

Loss of Income and Potential Income

If you were forced to miss work due to your injuries, you may be able to seek compensation for your lost wages during this period. If your injuries prevent you from performing the tasks required for your occupation and returning to work, or you are filing a wrongful death claim, you may also be able to claim compensation for your loss of potential income.

Pain and Suffering

You may be able to seek compensation for the physical and emotional pain and turmoil you may have suffered as a result of your injuries, depending on the severity of your injuries and how they have affected your quality of life.

Read More: Pain and Suffering

Loss of Companionship/Loss of Parental Figure

If you are filing a wrongful death claim after a spouse or parent has died in an accident, you may be able to seek compensation for the loss of companionship if you are the victim’s spouse. Meanwhile, the victim’s children may seek compensation for the loss of a parental figure.


The statute of limitations places a time limit on how long you have to file a claim for compensation after an accident. While the statute of limitations varies from state to state, the statute of limitations for personal injuries in many states is two years from the date of the accident.  


At Zinda Law Group, our truck accident lawyers have years of experience helping accident victims pursue any compensation they may be entitled to as a result of being injured in a garbage truck accident. Pedestrians or those in passenger vehicles may suffer serious or catastrophic injuries, and you may need an experienced lawyer to handle your claim while you focus on recovering from your injuries.

Your lawyer may help you seek compensation from the truck driver, their employer, the local governmental entity, or others that may have been responsible for the accident. Garbage truck accident attorneys may take advantage of the years of experience negotiating with insurance companies and seeking the maximum compensation victims may be entitled to after their accident.

Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers. You will not pay anything unless we can win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

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