Visitor Question

My vehicle was struck by a NYC sanitation truck…

Submitted By: Tim (Union City, NJ)

My wife and I were in heavy traffic near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. We, along with many other vehicles, were attempting to squeeze over to the left two lanes that would lead to the tunnel entrance.

We found a space that had been created between a sanitation truck and the passenger vehicle in front of it. Traffic had come to a stop because of the red traffic signal at the intersection ahead, so we moved into the clear area between the truck and the other vehicle. Most of our vehicle was in the lane the truck was in, with just a small part of the rear section still in the adjacent lane.

We were all waiting for the light to change and for traffic to begin moving.

Before traffic ahead of us began to move, and before we had an opportunity to completely enter the lane we were trying to get into, we felt a lurch and heard a crunching sound from the left rear part of our vehicle. The driver of the sanitation truck had put the truck in gear and was slowly beginning to crush our vehicle. Before we could fully comprehend what was happening, we felt more lurching and heard even louder crunching, as the truck continued to advance.

I jumped out of the passenger side (my wife was driving) and frantically tried to get the driver’s attention. He had actually stopped at that point, having finally realized what he was doing, but the left side of our car was badly damaged.

New York is a no-fault state, which means, to the best of my knowledge, that each party in a car accident is compensated for damages by their own insurance company. The problem is, we don’t have collision insurance, we only have liability.

Are we plain out of luck? Is there any way we can make a claim against NYC Sanitation?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Tim,

New York and New Jersey are both “No Fault” States. When it comes to personal injury in these states you must turn to your own insurance company to compensate you. It is different for property damage.

There is good news and bad news…

The good news is when it comes to physical damage to your car or its contents, unlike compensation for bodily injury claims, insurance claims are still based on fault. Those claims are handled in the same way as those in a state with a fault law: by filing a lawsuit against the bad driver or looking to your own collision insurance.

The bad news is because your action will be against a New York City owned and operated sanitation truck you will have to file a Tort Claim with NYC. To do so can be a daunting task. Since the case is against a municipality, you must file a Notice of Claim with NYC within 90 days of the incident.

The City has a right to request a pre-suit hearing (also known as a 50-h hearing) to depose you. Also, since the case is against a municipality, you must file the summons and complaint within a year and ninety days of the incident.

Depending upon the amount of damage your vehicle suffered you will have to decide if you are willing to work your way through the litigation process.

If you choose to wade into the process and find it too cumbersome, you might consider speaking with a New York City Attorney. Try and find one who has experience with cases against the NYC Sanitation Department.

Learn more here: Can You Sue the Government for Injury?

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


One comment on “My vehicle was struck by a NYC sanitation truck…

  1. Luis says:

    I was involved in a similar accident in NY and was injured (underwent hip and cervical surgeries). The no fault insurance only covered a certain amount but now I am in need of physical therapy and my car insurance does not cover me (only because the expenses has been exhausted and they closed the claim). Mind you, it was the truck who was negligent in my case. Not sure if there’s a hotline I can call, maybe the city has a facility.

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