Woman claims garbage truck damaged her car, but city won’t pay for repairs

Deana Stokes Sullivan
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Rhonda Webb looks over damage to her car Thursday that she says was caused by a city of St. John’s garbage truck. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Rhonda Webb, a single-parent living in the east end of St. John’s, says the city isn’t being fair in its response to damage caused to her car by a municipal garbage truck.

Webb said she parked on Guzzwell Drive Tuesday around 1:10 p.m. to pick up mail at her former residence.

She said she looked in her rearview mirror before getting out of the car and saw some garbage trucks down the street, but none appeared close to her.

But Webb said as soon as she began to open her driver’s door, the back end of a garbage truck hooked the door and brought it up solid against the truck.

“We couldn’t even budge the door,” she said.

After the door was freed, she said it wouldn’t close. Webb said the city employees told her she would have to drive her car home while holding the broken door.

“There was a bunch of garbagemen on that street that day. I guess where it was a holiday beforehand, they were trying to catch up or whatever on the garbage. There were at least three trucks on that street and they all stopped, in disbelief really, because how often does something freaky happen like that?” she said.

Since Tuesday, Webb said her car has been parked in her driveway and she still can’t drive it. She said when she contacted the city’s claims department, she was told the city isn’t taking any responsibility.

In addition to not being able to use her car, Webb said she’s had to take time off work. Her hand was on the door when it was struck by the truck and she said she began having pain in her arm that night, which her doctor has diagnosed as muscle injury.

Looking back, Webb said, “I could have very easily stepped out on the road and be crushed by that truck. I was pretty devastated about the whole thing.”

She said the city’s claims officer told her to go ahead and get a lawyer if that’s what she wants to do.

“That’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted my car fixed, but now I’m injured from it too,” she said.

“Why are they not responsible? I don’t understand that.”

Webb said as a single mom, she doesn’t have lots of money to have the car fixed or buy another one, and she only had liability insurance in order to reduce her costs.

She said her insurance company told her that even though the accident wasn’t her fault, if she had collision coverage they could fix her car and go after the city for the cost of the repairs.

Webb said the car was a 1996 Toyota Corolla, but it was in good working condition and got her to and from work and around the city to do her shopping.

She said she didn’t think to call the police when the accident occurred, but she filed a report on Wednesday and has contacted a lawyer.

Webb said she probably should have taken photos at the scene and found a witness, but she was so distraught she didn’t think of that.

“Honest to God, if I were to put my foot out on the road, he probably would have took me with the door because it happened so fast,” she said.

Webb said she was surprised by the city’s “nonchalant” attitude.

“(Like), ‘Too bad for you because we know we don’t have to pay for this.’ But, here I am a single parent trying to make a go of it.

“I work and I need my car for work.”

The city has declined comment.

Jennifer Mills, the city’s communications officer, said Thursday, “in any case where there is the potential for litigation, the city can’t comment.”

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • James White
    October 16, 2011 - 18:20

    While I was working for a major soft drink company in Montreal, our truck had a mishap pulling into a narrow alley and severely damaged the front end of parked car. Our driver immediately searched for and found the driver and presented him with forms stating that our company would pay all damages. Admittedly my company had much more money than the City of St. John's, but it seems wrong when a drinks maker is accountable by choice and a municipality is immune by say so.

    • nick karmann
      December 07, 2011 - 21:42

      I'v been in the trash business for 14 years and clearly the city wastes management has a responsiblity to her accident even though she didnt see the trash truck . The professional driver should of seen her and slow his truck down, clearly drivers fault by law. She should of called the cops and made a police report and had pictures , also the city should of sent a supervisor out to the accident and record documents on what happen including there pictures and statement from the driver of truck and this lady.

  • Ray
    October 16, 2011 - 16:54

    Sounds like it was mostly her fault...

  • mary
    October 16, 2011 - 14:26

    Not sure how the City of St. John's is responsible for this. Sounds like the lady didn't check her blind spot - something many don't do. She opened her car door without checking her blind spot and hit the garbage truck.

  • Robert
    October 16, 2011 - 12:54

    Deanna, this is very poor reporting. Did you bother to contact an insurance company to find out who is legally at fault here? According to the fault determination rules using the poor girl's story, SHE is at fault for not making sure that it was safe to open the door. If this happened outside my house with a private vehicle driving by, I would be held at fault.

  • incredulous
    October 16, 2011 - 12:19

    I fail to see how the city could possibly be at fault here! is it not the driver's responsibility to make sure that there is nothing obstructing her car door BEFORE she opened it? If that had been someone on a bike, she would have caused them injury. You always have to check your left shoulder view!! The fact that the driver is a single parent is completely irrelevant to the issue. Accept your own responsibility here Ms Webb. This was your own fault. Shame on you for expecting someone else to pay for it.

  • Joe
    October 16, 2011 - 09:50

    She looked in her rearview mirror? Anyone who knows how to drive also knows about the blind spot. Swinging a door open into traffic without even checking is as careless as it gets. Trying to pin the blame on someone else is just wrong, not to mention the pain that mysteriuosly began later... doesn't anybody own up to anything anymore?

  • meme
    October 15, 2011 - 23:53

    I am a single parent,so i know it can be hard but to me it seems you are using it to get money!!!!! Please your off work cause your hand was on the door?? they don't go very fast on pickup routes!! so if you get anything out of this claim guess what its out of this single moms tax money!!!!!!!!!! give up crying and get a life!!

  • Willie Hunt Pouch Cove NL
    October 15, 2011 - 16:36

    I always open my door without looking too and thank god i never knocked nobody off a bike or nothing. If you don't have a lot of money and find it hard to make ends meat you are better off not having any youngesters until you can afford them. Willie Hunt Pouch Cove NL

  • nobody
    October 15, 2011 - 15:46

    Single mother, I feel for you, I really do... I'm a single father. But... You didn't see a GARBAGE TRUCK??? And you claim there were 3 on the street?! Those things are massive. Anyways, best of luck trying to get money for this one.

  • been thinkin
    October 15, 2011 - 14:39

    Well done City, a parked vehicle is usually always in the right versus a moving vehicle, i say go to small claims court, get the names of all the truck drivers working that day and represent yourself. Never done it but I hear they are very helpful at the courts for newbiees. Good Luck

  • wtf
    October 15, 2011 - 12:26

    Her being a single mom is irrelevent, whoever is responsible should pay.

  • MR
    October 15, 2011 - 11:32

    Wouldn't it be her responsibility to ensure there was nobody close to her before she opened the door??

  • axle
    October 15, 2011 - 11:11

    you are supposed to check for traffic before you open the door, sorry but it looks you caused this mishap

  • Bob Bueller
    October 15, 2011 - 10:59

    One can not help but sympathize with this ladies plight. But as a former police officer, based on the article, it sounds like she is clearly and solely responsible for the accident. Why does she feel the City should be accountable for her neglecting to LOOK before she opened the door and hit the truck? Her sense of entitlement for the government to be responsible for repairs and damages is a sad comment on todays society. The bottom feeding attorney simply serves to exasperate the situation and profit from anothers loss and grief. She even comments "Too bad for you because we know we don't have to pay for this." "Why are they not responsible?" she asks. If the tables were turned and someone opened their door into her car would she be saying, "No problem, I'll pay for the damages to your car and also pay for your alleged injuries. I shouldn't have been driving on the road and I should have known you were going to open your door and hit me." No one wants to take responsibility for their own actions today. I'm sure she will vote Democratic.

  • Deane
    October 15, 2011 - 10:30

    I know she said she looked in her rare mirror but people...before you open your car door it is your responsibility to look out her drivers door window first, not the rare mirror. If a garbage truck is passing, there is nothing they can do if you decide to open your door when the truck is passing by and it happenend to hook in. Sorry, don't mean to insult anyone, but that's how I see it.

  • Deane
    October 15, 2011 - 10:25

    I know she said she looked in her rare mirror but people...before you open your car door it is your responsibility to look out her drivers door window first, not the rare mirror. If a garbage truck is passing, there is nothing they can do if you decide to open your door when the truck is passing by and it happenend to hook in. Sorry, don't mean to insult anyone, but that's how I see it.