Any car accident can cause serious injuries, but accidents involving semis and other large commercial trucks can be devastating. There is a serious potential of a fire when a semi-truck crashes, and it puts the victims of the accident at severe risk for life-threatening burn injuries. It’s important to know about burn injuries after an accident with a commercial truck, including how fires start at truck accident scenes, the types of injuries that can occur and the life-long consequences that victims face, and how to can get legal help after a crash.
How Fires Start at Truck Accident Scenes
Any car accident can result in a fire due to a combination of high heat from hot engines, fuel and other flammable liquids, and sparks from impact. However, semi-trucks are particularly vulnerable to fire after an accident for several reasons, including:
- External fuel tanks. Most large trucks carry square or cylindrical fuel tanks on the outside of the tractor on one or both sides. The combined volume of these tanks—tanks made of thin metal—may carry a hundred or more gallons of diesel fuel. A collision can result in a puncture that spreads flammable fuel across the accident scene.
- Electrical problems. If routine maintenance and repairs aren’t performed regularly and with appropriate care, the electrical system of the truck may short out or otherwise cause sparks that ignite flammable material, including any oil or fuel spilled during the accident.
- Hazardous cargo. An accident with a truck that’s carrying flammable goods or liquids is at risk of igniting.
Car and truck fires can happen very suddenly after an accident and often spread quickly. If you notice a fire after your crash, it’s important to get clear of the accident and to a safe location as soon as possible, and call the fire department immediately. Fireballs or explosions can erupt suddenly. Vehicle fires tend to burn very hot and fast, sometimes even before drivers and passengers can escape the vehicle, leading to severe and life-threatening burns.
Types of Burn Injuries
There are many ways you can be burned in a car accident. Fire is a leading cause of burns, but there are other types of burns that can happen, too, especially when a commercial truck with hazardous cargo is involved. Types of burn injuries at accident scenes may include:
- Thermal burns. A fuel source such as gasoline, diesel, fabric, or flammable cargo may ignite, burn fast, and cause damage by heat. Even if there is no open flame, engine or other mechanical surfaces may not appear to be visibly hot but can cause serious wounds if skin gets too near or makes contact.
- Chemical burns. Exposure to some engine fluids or spilled battery fluid may cause chemical damage to the skin after a wreck. If the semi was loaded with hazardous material, the impact could also cause the cargo to spill, posing a serious danger to drivers, rescuers, and bystanders.
- Electrical burns. A crash can expose the electrical system of a car or truck, causing dangerous sparks, short circuits, and electrifying metal vehicle parts, making some vehicle parts dangerous to touch.
Any of these types of burns can lead to minor first-degree burns, blistering and painful second-degree burns, or critical scarring third-degree burns that require immediate medical intervention. Surgical repair and skin grafts may be necessary, which can cause long recovery times, increased risk of infections, and permanent scarring or disfiguration.
Legal Help After a Burn Injury
If you’ve been burned in an accident with a semi or other commercial vehicle, Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you. We believe in standing up for the rights of victims who have been seriously injured by the negligence, recklessness, or wrongdoing of others, and we are here to help you seek the compensation you are owed in a court of law. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced legal professional, call our offices by phone, use the contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page.