Workers’ Compensation for Refuse and Recyclable Materials Collectors

January 17, 2024 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Workers’ Compensation for Refuse and Recyclable Materials Collectors

Waste management services are critical to maintaining the health and safety of communities across the country. The refuse and recyclable materials collectors who make this possible are subject to significant risks as they perform a labor-intensive job. Should this result in illness or injury, a waste management employee can file a workers’ compensation claim to partially offset their lost wages and related medical bills as they recover. 

Although this is intended to be a straightforward process, the reality is that workers’ compensation claims cut into insurance carriers’ profits, so you should anticipate that they may try to undermine your claim to justify less compensation. A workers’ compensation attorney can be an invaluable resource in this situation. At Dolman Law Group, we have been steadfast advocates for the right of injured workers to secure the workers’ comp benefits they deserve. Call us at (727) 451-6900 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Waste Management Workers Are at Risk of Serious Injury on the Job

Although refuse and recyclable materials collectors are not responsible for processing toxic materials, they encounter a number of other occupational hazards that lead to costly injuries that can be reimbursed in workers’ compensation claims. Waste management workers operate massive trucks that may require them to cling to the outside of the vehicle to expedite the process of collecting and dumping trash or recycling into the body of the truck. Outside of the truck’s cab, refuse and recyclable materials collectors are more vulnerable to injury. 

Common Causes of Waste Management Worker Injuries

Even with hybrid or automated side loaders, waste management workers may need to leave the safety of the cab to troubleshoot if there is a malfunction. This can result in a waste collector falling into the part of the truck where trash is compacted, leaving them exposed to sharp edges, entrapment under the compaction plate, and other concealed dangers like needles. A worker who hits the pavement from the height of the truck may sustain a serious fall-related injury like spinal cord trauma or a head injury. There is also a significant risk that passing cars may side-swipe a truck, knock a worker into the street, crush them against the vehicle, or even run them over. 

Weather conditions can be a factor in refuse and recyclable material collectors’ injuries. Storms can reduce visibility for nearby drivers, bring down power lines into the street, and impact the efficacy of the equipment, providing multiple opportunities for serious injury. High temperatures can present additional obstacles to the safety of waste management workers, as prolonged exposure to the heat can lead to life-threatening dehydration or exhaustion and induce flare-ups in employees with chronic conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.

Common Waste Management Worker Injuries

Refuse and recyclable materials collectors may sustain injuries like:

Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available to Refuse and Recyclable Materials Collectors

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 132,240 people were employed as refuse and recyclable materials collectors as of 2022. Workplace accidents are not uncommon in this field, so it can benefit waste management employees to be familiar with the range of workers’ compensation benefits potentially available to them. Workers’ compensation benefits are restricted to financial losses that the employee sustained as a result of their workplace injury. Benefits may include partial reimbursement for costs like:

  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning potential
  • Job retraining
  • Medical bills, including medications and home health equipment
  • Transportation costs to medical facilities for treatment

If your occupational injury is severe and ongoing, it may qualify as a disability. Workers’ compensation can also provide disability benefits for partial or permanent disability if their injury impacts their ability to work.

Refuse and recyclable materials collectors should be aware that workers’ compensation does not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. These types of damages are more difficult to quantify because their value is subjective. The workers’ compensation process prioritizes efficiency by limiting potential sources of conflict, like determining the monetary value of an employee’s loss of quality of life.

How to Qualify for Benefits in a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Waste management workers are entitled to receive compensation for on-the-job injuries provided that certain conditions are met. To begin with, you must be designated as an employee, not an independent contractor (IC). ICs, like Uber drivers, may not be entitled to the same benefits as full-fledged employees. Additionally, the workers’ compensation policy requires that the employee who was injured was operating within the scope of their duties at the time in order to be eligible for benefits.

To protect your ability to file a workers’ comp claim, the workplace injury must be reported to the employer, usually within 30 days, although the deadline varies by state. It is essential that you report any previous workplace injuries and accurately describe the severity of your injuries, or else you risk jeopardizing your claim to workers’ comp benefits.

As the employee, you do not need to prove that anyone was negligent in order to file a workers’ compensation claim. That means you can access workers’ comp benefits even if you were responsible for your own accidental injury. Self-inflicted workplace injuries attributable to intoxication, a deliberate act, or failure to use proper safety equipment are usually ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Why You Should Hire the Workers’ Compensation Attorneys of Dolman Law Group

If there is a dispute over a workers’ compensation claim, your employer and their insurance carrier will not hesitate to engage solid legal representation, and neither should you. At Dolman Law Group, we have years of experience standing up to powerful insurance companies, which has yielded exceptional results for our injured clients. We take pride in our reputation as skilled negotiators who go the extra mile for clients who have been injured on the job.

Our accomplished team of workers’ compensation lawyers is driven by the desire for client satisfaction, which we feel is reflected in the testimonials provided by our former clients. You can rest assured that our personal injury lawyers will prioritize your needs, provide your workers’ compensation claim with individualized attention, and advocate relentlessly on your behalf to secure the workers’ compensation benefits you are eligible to claim.

Contact Dolman Law Group For Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

Given the nature of waste management work, severe injuries are not uncommon. Dolman Law Group has been providing reliable representation to injured employees for many years in order to help secure the maximum workers’ compensation benefits available. Our diligent team will focus on proving that your injury is as severe as you have described, demonstrating that the injury occurred within the parameters of your job duties, and documenting your damages.

We are not deterred by a contentious workers’ compensation claim, as we have ample resources, knowledge of the workers’ compensation claims process, and the degree of legal expertise needed to effectively negotiate for the benefits that you deserve. In cases of gross negligence on the part of your employer or claims involving third-party liability, we are prepared to take on the challenge.

If your employer is delaying reporting your claim or discouraging you from filing for benefits, the insurance company is arguing that your injury was preexisting, or you have questions about how to check the status of your claim, our team at Dolman Law Group can help you with those issues and any other questions about the workers’ compensation claims process. We encourage you to give us a call at (727) 451-6900 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our outstanding workers’ compensation attorneys.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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