- Earlier this year, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling of a lower trial court that said Ray's Trash Service is not responsible for injuries a local woman sustained from one of their carts.
- In 2012, Erica DeHeer attempted to move an overturned bin with the lid open and fell as it rolled away. She hit her nose and cheek on the plastic rim, resulting in a nasal bone fracture, laceration, and other facial wounds.
- DeHeer received treatment at a plastic surgery facility, didn't tell Ray's about the incident and continued to use their services for multiple months, according to Waste360. In 2014, she filed a negligence lawsuit that was ultimately unsuccessful because a warning had been printed on the cart among other factors.
As reported by Waste 360, this case is similar to another one in Wisconsin that was decided earlier this year in which a woman reportedly suffered spinal cord syndrome and required neck surgery after stepping on an open cart that flipped over on top of her. In this case, a jury and subsequent appeals court found that manufacturer Otto Environmental Systems of North America Inc. wasn't negligent or liable.
One of the main factors in both cases was that each cart had clearly printed advisory warnings to close the lids before moving them. The Indiana court also clarified the cart-related duties of a hauler were exclusively "to provide bins reasonably suitable for their intended purpose of holding and transporting trash and recyclables to the curb and back." It also established that haulers can't be liable for ensuring that their carts remain upright after collection.
Many municipalities have already made the switch toward automated collection which uses these types of carts and others are considering doing the same. While this is often easier for workers, it can present more opportunities for customers to interact with their carts and potentially be injured. The rulings in these two instances could set a precedent that absolves haulers when this happens in the future.