Legal Help After a Dump Truck Accident
Dump trucks, also known as tip trucks or dumper lorries, are a simple yet vital part of the construction process on most sites. Few vehicles are as efficient in moving gravel, dirt, sand, concrete, and other materials. Depending on their size, dump trucks can transport an average of 6 to 15 tons. With capabilities like that, one can imagine how powerful dump trucks must be to get the job done.
While this power is a great asset to development, it is also a great danger to those around it. Mechanical giants such as these have the potential to cause devastating injuries and horrific deaths. In 2018 alone, 5,829 people were injured and 383 people died as a result of dump truck accidents. If you or a loved one has suffered as a result of a dump truck accident, you may be all too familiar with the havoc that dump truck accidents can cause. Read on to discover your legal options and set foot on your road to justice.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Liability for Dump Truck Accidents
- Causes of Dump Truck Accidents
- Dump Truck Accident Injuries
- What to Do After a Dump Truck Accident
- Case Study: $1.7 Million in Dump Truck Accident Case
- Legal Help for Dump Truck Accidents
Whether they occur on the road or at a job site, dump truck accidents can cause havoc to the lives of those affected. The hours, days, and weeks following an accident are likely to be some of the most uncertain and painful moments of your life. In the aftermath of a tragic accident, it can be difficult to pinpoint who is at fault for the suffering that you have experienced.
However, identifying liable parties (those who may be held legally responsible) is an essential component in the process of getting the compensation you deserve. We know that legal jargon and complex circumstances can create a great deal of confusion, so we’ve broken down potential liable parties below.
Driver liability: Dump trucks are complicated and dangerous vehicles that require operators to have a great amount of experience and education under their belts. Despite the comprehensive training dump truck drivers go through, mistakes can still happen. Unfortunately, the hazardous nature of dump trucks means that mistakes can have horrifying consequences. Dump trucks fall under commercial vehicle law, which provides drivers with a set of rigorous federal guidelines to prevent tragedy from striking. These guidelines prohibit a variety of dangerous activities, including traffic violations, driving under the influence, or working outside of permitted hours. If these rules are broken by an operator, they can be held accountable for any pain and suffering they cause as a result.
Company liability due to vicarious responsibility: Highly skilled and thoroughly trained operators are the only people who can safely operate dump trucks. It is an employer’s duty to ensure that all of their operators are suitable to be behind the wheel. When companies do not fulfill this duty, they are considered responsible for any damage that said operator may cause.
Company liability due to general negligence: As pieces of heavy machinery, regular maintenance is a key component of dump truck safety. Even the most experienced driver can be subject to an accident when operating a poorly maintained dump truck, putting himself and the public in harm’s way. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has enacted very specific regulations to ensure the regular inspection and repair of commercial vehicles such as dump trucks. Negligent employers can and should be held accountable for failing to properly maintain their equipment.
Manufacturer liability: Dump trucks are massive and complicated machines with many moving parts that keep drivers and bystanders safe. But when a dump truck malfunctions, tragedy can occur. Manufacturers hold the great responsibility for designing and assembling dump trucks – a responsibility that either protects lives or risks them. If a manufacturer fails to ensure the safety of their vehicles, they can be held responsible for whatever damages ensue as a result.
Other parties: A lot happens at once both on the road and on the job site. Other parties, including individuals or motorists, could be liable based on the circumstances.
Dump trucks are commercial vehicles, meaning that any accident that involves a dump truck falls under commercial vehicle accident law and federal trucking regulations. Under these laws, it is likely that a company is at fault for a dump truck accident and will be held accountable according to these laws.
Anyone who looks at a photo of a dump truck can imagine the damage an accident involving one could inflict. With hulking metal bodies, powerful hydraulics, loads weighing in at multiple tons, and complex moving parts, even the simplest of incidents can lead to horrific consequences.
Read below for some common causes of dump truck accidents:
Driver error: As mentioned above, drivers must be highly alert, thoroughly trained, and sufficiently experienced to safely operate a dump truck. While unqualified drivers can be at fault for accidents caused by their errors, it’s more common that commercial truck drivers are driving extended unauthorized hours, driving under the influence, or driving distracted. When you do a task all day every day, it’s easy to become complacent. However, commercial truck driving leaves no room for complacency. Negligence kills on roads and job sites.
Poor visibility: Reversing a dump truck can be challenging for operators due to low visibility. The dump box, which is the component of the truck that holds materials, is placed directly behind the cab – blocking most of the driver’s rear visibility. The weight, power, and heavy loads carried by dump trucks make this hazard a potentially lethal one. Dump trucks could potentially strike bystanders, other vehicles, or objects around them due to the driver’s blind spots. Those that drive dump trucks should use a spotter whenever possible while backing up.
Overloading: All dump trucks have a limit. When workers load their dump boxes with material that exceeds the load rating of their brake systems and tires, disaster may strike. Overloading prohibits dump trucks from being able to stop within their typical stopping distance. The habitual overloading of a dump truck strains nearly all components of the vehicle, making them more prone to malfunctioning.
Uneven roads: As with many commercial vehicles and construction equipment, uneven terrain can pose a risk to safe operation. Uneven ground or terrain that could potentially shift and become unbalanced should be avoided while loading and unloading. In the case of dump trucks, uneven terrain could lead to the vehicle tipping over. Tipping is the most common cause of dump truck accidents and unfortunately can lead to lethal injury. Victims can be crushed under the weight of the dump truck or be injured by falling loads.
Flying Debris: Dump trucks move massive loads of rock, sand, dirt, and other materials both on construction sites and on major roads and highways. Debris can easily fly off the surface of these loads, hitting pedestrians and vehicles or becoming an obstacle on the roadway. According to AAA, more than 200,000 crashes involved debris on U.S. roads from 2012-2016. In the three years between 2011 and 2014, flying debris caused 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths. Improperly balanced loads or overloaded trucks could lead to materials flying out of the dump box, potentially risking the lives of others on the road.
Injuries caused by dump trucks can be severe or even fatal. In order to transport loads that can weigh dozens of tons, dump trucks must utilize a great deal of power. These machines are packed with roughly 300-600 horsepower and weigh in at an average of 25,000 pounds.
It would be any person’s worst nightmare to be in the vicinity of a dump truck and realize that something is deeply wrong – and that your life is on the line. Unfortunately, this nightmare is all too real for many.
Dump truck accident injuries may include:
- Severed limbs and extremities
- Bone fractures
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and nerve damage
- Traumatic brain injury
- Blunt force trauma
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Tragedy can dawn in the blink of an eye, leaving victims and their families to pick up the pieces. This list is just a small set of the horrors that victims suffer as a result of a dump truck accident. Even if a victim recovers from their physical injuries, they are often left with the challenge of insurmountable financial distress and psychological damage. One cannot overestimate the pain and suffering that personal injury victims endure.
Following a dump truck accident, all parties should ensure that the danger is over, and it is safe to proceed. Move away from the site of the incident if possible and find a safe place to call the authorities. Even if you aren’t hurting now, you could be later – get medical attention immediately to ensure your health and safety.
- File a Police Report: Police are likely to show up on the scene; be certain to give them your entire account of the event. All witnesses should do the same to avoid any future confusion about the incident.
- Seek Legal Counsel: Don’t walk away from an accident thinking that it wasn’t “severe enough.” What may seem like a minor accident at the time could result in the development of underlying injury and psychological distress. You should be compensated fairly for any damages you may incur, including lost wages and musculoskeletal pain. Speak to one of our experienced attorneys as soon as possible to file a personal injury lawsuit and move forward with your life.
- File a Worker’s Compensation Claim: Construction workers hit by a dump truck should file for worker’s compensation as an action separate from a personal injury lawsuit. These filings are limited, for example, the current maximum weekly benefits an injured worker can receive in New York is $966.78.
The attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy have resolved well over $1.5 billion for accident victims, including a $110 million jury verdict in a construction accident case and a $32 million verdict for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. Since 2012, no other law firm in New York resolved more cases exceeding $1,000,000 than Block O’Toole & Murphy. To speak with a qualified attorney today, please call 212-736-5300 or fill out our Contact Form. We serve New York and New Jersey.
In a Queens, New York case, a 31-year-old mother and community leader was sitting in her parked Honda Civic and a dump truck was behind her in the street. As the light turned from red to green, the dump truck moved forward, striking the driver side of our client’s car in the process.
Our client suffered severe and permanent injuries to her left knee, back, and neck, limiting her sensation in her extremities, her activity tolerance, and her range of motion. These injuries impaired her ability to resume her typical activities, depriving both her children and her community of the care she once was able to give.
The dump truck driver violated Vehicle and Traffic Law by failing to exercise due care and yield the right of way, resulting in life-changing injuries for our client. Our client made claims for past and future pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and past and future medical expenses. Our firm attorneys Stephen J. Murphy and Aaron R. Fishkin secured a $1,750,000 pretrial settlement for our client.
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a dump truck, you deserve nothing less than an attorney who will fight for the maximum compensation you’re entitled to under the law. While compensation won’t restore your life to exactly as it was, it will be the first step on your path to a new sense of stability, fulfillment, and closure. The capable and dedicated personal injury attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy will fight for you in your time of need. Our lawyers have years of experience in construction accident litigation.
Select recoveries involving commercial vehicle accidents include:
- $14,000,000 settlement for a motorcyclist who was hit by a truck, resulting in over 10 surgeries including a leg amputation
- $13,500,000 settlement for a pedestrian who suffered traumatic brain injury after she was hit by a company-owned car in Long Island
- $9,950,000 settlement for a 28-year-old social worker who was hit by a van and suffered a left leg amputation as a result
Don’t wait to move forward with your personal injury case. To schedule a free consultation, fill out our online contact form or call 212-736-5300 – justice is on the other end of the line. Our firm serves New York and New Jersey.