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Trash collecting: a surprisingly dangerous job

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, trash collectors and recycling workers have one of the deadliest jobs in the U.S. The data shows that trash collectors suffer fatal on-the-job injuries more often than law enforcement and firefighters.

Getting hit by another vehicle is the most frequent reason garbage collectors are injured. Drivers too often fail to see the workers.

Conditions such as these can result in a serious or fatal accident:

  • Distracted drivers failing to notice garbage and recycling workers
  • Early morning work hours mean less sunlight, making it harder for drivers to see the workers
  • Tight spaces such as alleys
  • Workers who have their backs turned away from traffic

Some states have laws protecting these workers

In 2009, Michigan passed a “Slow Down to Get Around” law, which allows the state to charge drivers who injure or kill garbage workers with a felony. Since then, 15 states enacted similar legislation. Unfortunately, Connecticut does not have a specific law addressing this issue.

Workers’ compensation and third-party lawsuits

Regardless of the type of criminal charge the state can bring, workers who suffer injuries can seek workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp covers all medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Additional benefits may apply, depending on the specifics of the case.

In addition to workers’ compensation, injured workers and their families may bring a third-party personal injury or wrongful death suit against the negligent driver. Typically, these lawsuits provide more financial compensation than workers’ comp. They also allow the injured party to seek damages for pain and suffering.

If you were seriously injured or you lost a family member in one of these accidents, it’s best to speak with a lawyer to make certain you get the compensation and benefits you need. 

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  • Board Certified | Workers' Compensation Specialist | Connecticut Bar Association
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