Hazardous material accidents occur when a truck releases dangerous materials or chemicals onto the highway or surrounding land or water, potentially causing both short-term and long-term damage to people and property. These can be among the most horrific of truck accidents because of the injuries and damages associated with the exposure to the hazardous materials and chemicals themselves. Even if a person who collides with a truck carrying hazardous materials (a “HAZMAT truck”) survives the collision, that person and the surrounding community face the additional dangers of fire, explosions, or exposure to harmful chemicals which can have devastating, permanent effects. HAZMAT trucks often transport:
- Flammable materials;
- Hazardous waste;
- Dangerous chemicals;
- Radioactive materials;
- Compressed gas; and
- Spent nuclear fuel.
Any of these transported items can change an ordinary truck wreck into an all-out catastrophe with devastating injuries and harmful environmental changes. Not only are persons involved in a truck wreck with a HAZMAT commercial vehicle endangered, but also, those who come in contact with land or water into which hazardous materials have spilled are at risk. Drivers of surrounding vehicles are can be harmed by a hazardous materials spill. Depending on what type of material is spilled, these accidents can cause property damage or environmental harm. Certain spills can also negatively affect tourism—and therefore hurt businesses—in areas with bodies of water which are popular vacation spots.
These accidents and spills occur for several reasons. Driver fatigue, inattentiveness, speeding and poor roadway conditions are just some of the many reasons why these accidents take place. The most direct cause may involve the negligent operation of the commercial truck by the driver. Per the statistics held by the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are approximately 200 fatal truck accidents per year involving a commercial vehicle transporting hazardous materials.
In many situations, the initial collision may seem fairly minor and appear to only involve property damage. However, when dealing with a commercial vehicle carrying hazardous or dangerous materials, extra caution must be taken immediately following the incident. There have been many tragic incidents where there were no personal injuries from the initial collision but an explosion or fire occurred due to a leak of flammable liquids and people were killed and/or sustained life-altering burn injuries.
If the hazardous materials themselves are the cause of the injury, then the shipper may be held liable for failing to inform the trucking company of the nature and dangers associated with the shipped materials or for failing to give the trucker adequate instruction for safely transporting the materials. In some cases, both the truck driver and the shipper of the hazardous materials can be sued and held responsible. It is also important to note that shippers of hazardous goods often carry more insurance than truck drivers. This means that if the shipper is found liable, an injured person can likely receive a greater damages award to compensate them for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
It is important to consult with an experienced hazardous materials accident attorney who understands the various trucking rules, regulations and standards that apply to this transportation industry. The attorneys at Hollis Wright law firm have an in depth understanding of these rules and regulations.CONTACT OUR HAZARDOUS MATERIAL TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYERS TODAY
Our legal team at Hollis Wright is highly experienced in the science of accident investigation and reconstruction as well as determining the responsible parties. We have been involved in many cases that require significant and detailed forensic analysis. Oftentimes, it is necessary to retain an accident reconstruction expert to examine the vehicles and trucks involved in a motor vehicle accident to determine who is liable. We have access to some of the best experts in the country who can conduct a full scale investigation and reconstruction of these types of accidents.
If you or a loved one were injured or killed in an accident involving a commercial truck transporting hazardous materials, or if your property was damaged by hazardous materials, don’t wait, contact an experienced attorney at Hollis Wright today for a free consultation. If you retain an attorney at our firm, your case will be handled on a contingency fee basis which means you don’t pay a fee unless we obtain a monetary award or settlement on your behalf.