I Was Injured by a Garbage Truck or Snowplow. Do I Have a Case?
Generally speaking, New York motorists owe other motorists and pedestrians a “duty of reasonable care.” This means that motorists must drive safely, while using reasonable care under the circumstances, to keep those around them safe. If a motorist fails to comply with the rules of the road—by, for example, failing to maintain the lane of travel, traveling in excess of the speed limit, or becoming distracted by an electronic device—resulting in your injury, you would have a potential negligence claim.
There are some narrow exceptions to this law of reasonable care. If you were involved in an accident with a garbage truck or snowplow, the issue of negligence may be more complicated. An experienced truck accident attorney can analyze your case and determine if you have a possible claim.
The New York legislature has exempted certain vehicles from the rules of the road, including those that are engaged in work on a highway. New York courts have held that where the operator of a garbage truck or snowplow is actually engaged in covered work at the time of the accident, the injured person cannot make a negligence claim to recover damages.
Instead, the injured person must show that the operator displayed “reckless disregard” for the safety of others. This can be difficult to prove because New York courts have held that a brief lapse in judgment will not establish reckless disregard for the safety others.
A truck accident lawyer can assess the particular facts of your case to see whether you will need to establish reckless disregard for the safety of others, or ordinary negligence to recover.
Exceptions to the Reckless Disregard Standard
Just because a garbage truck or snowplow was involved in the accident, does not necessarily mean you will be stuck with proving the more difficult reckless disregard standard. The operator has to be “actually engaged in work on a highway” at the time of the accident. So, if he or she was not traveling on the route, but instead traveling from one part of the route to another via a different road, the reckless disregard standard may not apply at all. This was the holding in Hoffman v Town of Ashford, a recent decision from the Fourth Department, Appellate Division.
For this reason, if the owner and operator of the garbage truck or snowplow does not establish the truck’s operator “was working his ‘run’ or ‘beat’ at the time of the accident,” the ordinary negligence rule may apply. That was the holding in Arrahim v City of Buffalo, an even more recent decision of the same court.
Filing a Claim after a Garbage Truck or Snowplow Accident
A truck accident attorney can help you assess whether the reckless disregard standard applies. Assuming it does, an attorney can help you investigate to see whether the conduct of the truck operator rises to this level. This will entail an investigation and discovery with an eye toward establishing what the law requires.
In addition, because most work on a highway is performed by, or on behalf of, municipalities like towns, cities, and counties, an attorney can advise you on the required “statute of limitations” and “notice of claim” requirements. Failure to satisfy these requirements can result in your case being dismissed, so if you were injured by a snowplow or garbage truck, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Hurt in a Garbage Truck or Snowplow Accident? Call William Mattar.
The truck accident attorneys at William Mattar Law Offices have experience helping people after they were injured by snowplows and garbage trucks. We offer our clients our No Fee Until We WinSM, which says that you will not owe lawyer’s fees unless we settle or win your accident case. To speak to an attorney today, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (844) 444-4444.