Dumpsters are a common sight on construction sites, and they go by different names, including dumper trailers, dumping trucks, and dumping lorries. They also come in varying designs and sizes, but all dumpsters have one thing in common, they are prone to tipping over, which can sometimes result in fatal injuries.
A 2019 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration report showed that dump truck-related accidents accounted for nine percent of fatal crashes involving heavy vehicles and buses.
Tipping over is one of the most common dumpster accidents because of their relatively raised center of gravity. However, even with a high center of gravity, they are designed to stay stable, but some factors can easily compromise their stability.
Uneven Or Soft Ground
Operating a dumpster on uneven ground can highly compromise its stability. As the dumpster lifts the dump bed on uneven ground, the center of gravity rises, thus making the risk of a tip-over significantly high.
Some dumpsters have an articulating dump bed that compensates for slightly uneven grounds, making the dumpster somehow stable when offloading. But even then, operating a dumpster on uneven ground is not a good idea.
Operating a dump truck on soft ground can also result in a tip-over. Even a compacted site can have points of weakness that can give in to the truck’s weight and load; when that happens on one side of the truck, the chances of tipping over are significantly high.
Unevenly Loaded Material And Strong Winds
Unevenly loaded material is also a leading cause of dumpster tip-over accidents. An uneven load is dangerous when offloading or if the dumpster gets on a public road.
Uneven load distribution often occurs when initially loading, but it can also happen when unloading. For example, one side of the load flows while the other remains stuck, leaving the dumpster unbalanced.
Drivers will also want to be cautious of strong winds when on the road or when offloading. The longer the dumpster trailer is, the higher the surface area and the higher the chances of a tip-over accident during a time of high winds. “If you encounter strong winds while on the road, it is best to pull over and only proceed when the winds die out,” says personal injury attorney Ashley Spires of Childers Schlueter & Smith, LLC.
The same applies to dumping. While you may think that the dump truck is heavy enough to avoid unbalance, it could still tip over in strong winds. When the bed is raised, the center of gravity increases significantly, meaning a little nudge by a strong wind can be enough to tip it over.
Who Is Liable?
Dumpster owners and operators are responsible for ensuring that any person that comes into proximity to their dumpster is safe. An accident involving a dumpster can see the driver, the truck owner, or the manufacturer liable for the resulting damages and injuries, depending on the cause of the accident.
A dumpster owner could be liable for damages if the cause of the accident was due to their negligence or that of their employees. The operator could be responsible if the accidents occurred when they were engaged in a non-work-related activity or acted maliciously.
If an accident results from a faulty part, your lawyer may consider filing a defective product lawsuit against the dumpster maker or the manufacturer. Injured operators can also recover damages through workers’ compensation cover.