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Garbage Truck Accidents Are Common And Sometimes Fatal

Garbage Truck Accidents are Common and Sometimes Fatal

Everyone produces trash and at some point it needs to be hauled away, whether that’s by private trash haulers or municipalities with their own trucks. With all these vehicles operating day and night a fatal accident is inevitable. Recently a wrongful death claim in Massachusetts involving a garbage truck was settled for $1.2 million.

Wrongful death lawsuits are filed by the personal representative of the estate of someone killed due to the negligent, willful, wanton or reckless act of another party. The family of 62-year old Steven Peters of Ware filed such a legal action. He was killed in July 2017 by a garbage truck driven by James Avila of Hardwick, who was charged with vehicular homicide by the police, reports MassLive. Avila reportedly lost control of the vehicle which knocked down a telephone pole then drove up onto Peters’ front lawn, striking and fatally injuring him while he was raking leaves. The lawsuit alleged that Avila negligently drove the vehicle and his employer was liable for his actions and failed to make sure safety devices in the truck operated properly.

Our office has had extensive experience dealing with trucking crashes involving other cars seriously injuring or killing pedestrians and other motorists. Several years ago we successfully filed suit against a major corporation. A BFI garbage truck collided with a tractor trailer, killing one person and paralyzing another. After extensive pre-trial discovery, the case settled for $3.25 million. Here is a summary of our “Gagnon v. Shoblom and BFI” case.

Trash Haulers Are Involved in Serious Accidents in Springfield, MA and Across the Country

Garbage trucks involved in accidents causing serious injuries and deaths are an issue across the country.

  • On March 14, 2019 there was a collision with an Allied Waste garbage truck in Springfield, MA on Hancock street, killing the driver of a van and injuring the garbage truck driver as reported by MassLive.
  • A thirty year old bicyclist was struck and killed by a garbage truck in New Orleans on February 20, according to the New Orleans Advocate.
  • The driver of a vehicle was critically injured when a garbage truck swerved into his lane and caused a head-on crash in Hillburn, New York, on February 11. The driver had to be pulled from the vehicle by firefighters and was listed in critical condition at a nearby hospital later that day, reports the Rockland/Westchester Journal News.
  • Last October New York City police began a crackdown on privately owned trash hauling trucks after a number of accidents, reports Fox5. The department claims these trucks have been found to have faulty brakes, leaking fuel lines and lights that didn’t work and drivers who run red lights and drive the wrong way. That month a private sanitation truck struck and injured a cyclist. An Australian tourist was killed by a private garbage truck near Central Park in September 2017 and a year later a cyclist was hit and killed by a private garbage truck in Brooklyn. The New York Police Department stated that from 2013 to 2018 fifty deaths were caused by accidents in the city involving private trash trucks.

Cases like this are tragic, but help from A Good Law Firm is available.

Massachusetts State Law and Wrongful Death Cases

Under Massachusetts law a wrongful death action can be brought against the company whose employee caused the wrongful death of a person.

Damages that could be awarded include the fair monetary value of the decedent to the plaintiffs, including, but not limited to, compensation for,

  • The loss of the reasonably expected net income, services, protection, care, assistance, society, companionship, comfort, guidance, counsel and advice of the decedent.
  • Medical bills and funeral and burial expenses.
  • Punitive damages not less than five thousand dollars if the death was caused by the gross negligence or the malicious, willful, wanton or reckless conduct of the defendant.
  • The corporate employer with deep pockets is sued under a theory of vicarious liability for the negligence or the willful, wanton or reckless act of his agents or employees while engaged in the furtherance of the company’s business.

The plaintiff in this type of lawsuit would be the probate court appointed personal representative of the deceased’s estate. It would need to be filed,

  • Within three years from the date of the initial crash.
  • For further information on wrongful death damages, see the chapter Attorney Alan R. Goodman authored in the 3-Volume legal treatise entitled, “Proving and Defending Damage Claims”, a Fifth-State Guide, Brown, Editor, Wolters Kluwer and Aspen Publishing.

What you Should do if a Loved One is Killed in an Accident Involving a Garbage Truck?

CALL US IMMEDIATELY 24/7 at 413-736-1616 if it just happened. Otherwise, contact our office through our online form to schedule a free consultation.

It is important to act quickly and retain an experienced garbage truck accident attorney in Springfield, MA before important evidence at the scene is last and vehicles are destroyed. We will get pictures, police accident reconstruction reports and sometimes hire our own accident reconstruction expert and human factors expert to determine the causes of the fatal crash. Sometimes, products liability claims arise. There is negligent maintenance issues to investigate, cell records to obtain, and other vital documents and evidence to obtain and preserve through legal mechanism. We know how to protect your legal rights and what steps to take to build the proof that we will need to win your case. We do not collect attorney’s fees unless we are able to earn money for those that we represent. In most cases, we charge 1/3 of what we collect plus expenses.


Contact us today so we can start the legal process that may result in compensation for your loss and holding the responsible party accountable.

We Handle Out Of State Accidents Involving Massachusetts Residents

We have successfully handled death cases of 3 young woman driving from UMass to Florida and vacation who were killed in a train crash in Delaware. We have successfully handled a sight-seeing plane crash in Hawaii involving Massachusetts residents who were killed when pilot error, inexperience and fraudulent misrepresentation on his operator’s license all led to the fiery crash into the crater because he was not certified to fly using instruments and the plane was not maintained properly.


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