Trucking accidents are scary, traumatic events. A loaded semi-truck can weigh up to 80,000. And when a vehicle that big collides with a smaller passenger vehicle, the results are often catastrophic. But if the semi-truck is carrying hazardous materials, the results can be even more dangerous.
If you were injured or someone you love was killed in a trucking accident with a semi carrying hazardous materials, you may be entitled to compensation. The truck accident injury lawyers at Robenalt Law can help.
FMCSA Identifies Nine Categories of Hazardous Materials
A truck carrying hazardous cargo—known as a hazmat truck—hauls liquid or gas cargo, solids that are explosive or flammable, or materials that are toxic, infectious, or radioactive. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has identified nine different classes of hazardous material. If a truck is carrying hazardous materials, the vehicle transporting the hazardous cargo must display a visor card that is clearly visible on all sides of the trailer.
The nine categories of hazardous materials are as follows:
- Explosives. Anything that can cause an explosion or become a projectile, including blasting agents or detonating devices.
- Gases. Flammable and non-flammable compressed gas, including toxic gases.
- Flammable or Combustible Liquids. Gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, motor oil, kerosene, ethanol, and others.
- Flammable Solids. Sulphur, activated charcoal, aluminum powder, magnesium, and household goods like sulfur.
- Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides. Chemical compounds that enhance the burning of other materials.
- Toxic Materials and Infectious Substances. Toxic materials and infectious biological materials that could cause disability or death if ingested by a human or animal.
- Radioactive Materials. Any material that is radioactive could cause damage to the environment and people nearby for decades, or even centuries, and requires special handling and management.
- Corrosive Materials. Strong acids or bases that can quickly burn and corrode.
- Miscellaneous. A catch-all category for substances that are hazardous but do not fall into any of the other categories, like lithium batteries or dry ice.
Drivers who transport hazardous materials must carry a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit (HMSP) and shipping documents that explain exactly what is being transported. To remain safe, hazmat trucks and companies that ship hazardous materials must follow specific federal regulations for transporting hazardous cargo.
Dangers of Hazardous Material Spills
If a hazmat truck is involved in an accident and spills hazardous materials, the result can be detrimental to the people involved and nearby residents. It can also have a profoundly negative effect on the environment.
A collision involving a hazmat truck can release materials like gasoline, propane, or kerosene that can easily ignite and cause severe burns or fatalities. Toxic gases may be released into the air and cause eye irritation and respiratory and neurological conditions. Depending on the type of gas, wind, and climate conditions, gas fumes can travel long distances and injure people who were miles from the accident site.
Justice for People Injured in Accidents with Hazmat Trucks
Injuries caused by hazardous materials can take months, or even years, to heal. You may incur substantial medical bills and be unable to work during this time, which can lead to lost wages and financial difficulties.
An experienced truck accident injury lawyer can evaluate the accident to determine who was at fault and hold them responsible for the harm they caused.
Trucking accidents, and particularly those involving hazardous materials, are extremely complicated. The accident may have been caused by any number of parties, including the driver, the trucking company, a manufacturer of truck parts, or the broker or shipper of the hazardous materials.
To hold the responsible parties accountable, it is important that you work with an experienced truck accident injury lawyer. An attorney will be able to determine who was at fault, help you understand the compensation you are entitled to, and present the evidence you will need to hold that at-fault parties responsible for the harm they caused.
A truck accident injury lawyer will identify the responsible parties, negotiate with the various insurance companies to try to reach the best possible settlement, and file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit if the insurance companies are unwilling to resolve the case for a fair amount.
If you were injured or someone you love was killed in an accident with a hazmat truck, the lawyers at Robenalt Law are here to help. We have the experience, expertise, and resources to successfully take on your case. We handle truck accident injury cases on a contingency fee, which means we don’t get paid unless we recover money for you.
Tom Robenalt started his litigation career representing trucking companies and other corporate defendants and insurance companies at a large firm in Cleveland. For the past 25 years, he has used that experience to help people who have been catastrophically injured or killed in trucking accidents.