Every time you get in the car and hit the road in Texas, you are sharing the road with all kinds of other traffic besides yourself. Not only are there other passenger vehicles with travelers such as yourself, there is also a lot of commercial traffic hauling raw materials, supplies, and finished goods for many types of business and industry. What may not be apparent to the untrained driver is that much of the cargo may be more dangerous than it appears to be. Many companies rely on trailers or tankers to carry the hazardous materials (“hazmat”) that they need to get the job done. But what happens when a truck carrying hazardous cargo causes an accident?
Here’s what all drivers should know about accidents with tankers or trucks carrying hazardous cargo, including substances to look out for, how accidents happen, and how to get legal help if you’ve been hurt in a crash.
Types of Hazardous Cargo
There are nearly as many different types of hazardous chemicals, compounds, and materials on the road as there are trucks, but there are several that stand out as the ones that typically cause injuries in accidents. These substances to look out for include:
- Gasoline. Gas tanker trucks are very common on the road and can often be found in transit to and from gas stations to keep the pumps full. Gasoline spills can turn a minor accident into a severe fire fast, causing dramatic and devastating damage in the blink of an eye.
- Chlorine. Chlorine, though shipped in liquid form, quickly turns into a gas when released into the air. It is extremely corrosive, and a chlorine gas cloud can quickly overwhelm accident victims, leading to painful chemical burns on the body and irreparable damage in the lungs, causing death by suffocation.
- Diesel fuel. Like regular gasoline, diesel can pose a severe fire risk. It can also make road surfaces treacherously slick, making an accident more likely if there is a spill.
- Propylene. Propylene is one of the simplest hydrocarbons, and it is often shipped in liquid form. It is extremely flammable, and an accident can release a toxic vapor cloud capable of exploding violently with exposure to any ignition source.
- Liquefied propane gas (LPG). LPG is used for many purposes commercially, industrially, agriculturally, and residentially. It is extremely flammable.
- Sulfuric acid. Many highly acidic compounds, such as sulfuric acid, are shipped in tanker trucks. An accident that causes a spill can cause extreme chemical burns to anyone exposed. In addition, the vapors released may be deadly and reactions with other chemicals commonly found in cars, car parts, or the surrounding environment can cause even worse damage.
There are many other dangerous types of cargo on the road too numerous to list. They are generally grouped into nine classifications based on the type of hazard that the substance presents, such as Class 1 explosive materials or Class 2 flammable or explosive gases.
When Hazmat Trucks Cause an Accident
Driving any kind of commercial truck is a very regulated business. Operating hazmat trucks require special training and an endorsement on a driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL). Failure to obey regulations, such as exceeding maximum driving time during a workday or performing regular inspections and maintenance are not only illegal but can also lead to serious accidents. Only an investigation into the circumstances around the crash can determine what happened and who may be legally liable for any damages. In some situations, the truck driver may be responsible; the company shipping the materials may also hold liability for any injuries caused by dangerous cargo.
Get Legal Help After an Accident
If you have been involved in an accident with a hazmat truck, contact a personal injury attorney to start an investigation into the process right away. Your attorney can help you determine your legal options moving forward, help you negotiate with insurance, and take your claim to court if a settlement can’t be reached to pay for the damages to your vehicle, emergency medical treatment, follow-up care, any long-term health needs, and compensation for other expenses related to the accident.
The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP are here to help those who have been injured in accidents caused by negligence, carelessness, or recklessness get the justice that they deserve in a court of law. To talk to an experienced legal professional about your accident, call us by phone, use our online contact form to send an email, or click the live chat box on this page right now.