Accidents Caused by Trucks Carrying Hazardous Materials
Tractor-trailer trucking accidents can surprise many with the variety of ways in which they can cause injury. Because of the relative difference in weight as between a semi truck and a standard vehicle, semi accidents are much more likely to injure people for life or otherwise kill them when something goes wrong on the road. These huge machines are responsible for transporting millions upon millions of goods and materials across the country. It is no surprise that among all of these goods and materials, some of what these trucks are hauling can be dangerous than others. The trucks that move the more dangerous materials are referred to as hazmat trucks.
Hazmat trucks get involved in accidents on our highways, just as regular semi trucks do. However, there are some key differences between these hazmat truck accidents and regular tractor-trailer accidents. The difference in what some big rigs are hauling can affect how an injured person goes forward with a tractor-trailer claim.
Hazmat Semi-Truck Accident Claims
People involved in accidents with semi-trucks hauling hazardous materials and chemicals are more likely to suffer especially severe damages as a result. Medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity as a result of disabling injury, as well as general pain and suffering damages can be extensive after such an accident and can have a tremendous negative effect on someone’s finances. With a hazmat truck accident claim, as with any semi-truck accident claim, an injured person can seek compensation for the damages they sustained by proving that the truck driver or trucking company was negligent in causing the crash.
Those looking to pursue a truck accident claim stand a much greater chance of success when they use an experienced truck accident attorney. This is particularly true when using a truck accident lawyer that has handled cases involving semis transporting hazardous materials. They can assist you in investigating, gathering evidence, and navigating the nuances of the legal process so as to maximize your chance of success and ultimate recovery.
What is a Hazardous Material (Hazmat) Semi-Truck?
A semi-truck (also known as a “tractor-trailer”) that hauls hazardous materials is often nicknamed a “hazmat truck.” These big rigs are specifically authorized to carry potentially dangerous material across vast distances. These trucks can either be semi-trucks with the regular box-style trailers, or tractors pulling tankers that are filled with liquid hazardous materials, such as jet fuel, acid, or other dangerous liquids.
In order to legally transport these hazardous materials, truck drivers are required to have a hazardous material endorsement. In essence, that endorsement is supplementary certification on their trucking license that shows they have been trained in the proper procedure and precautions requisite in transporting dangerous materials. In addition to this, security and background checks are generally run on truck drivers hauling hazardous materials in order to ensure they will not be a risk factor.
Semi trucks authorized to haul hazardous material also have many restrictions placed on them in an effort to minimize the chance of a serious accident or injury occurring, both for the truck driver’s sake, as well as the general public. For example, hazardous material trucks are only allowed to travel at certain times of the day and are usually restricted from using certain roads so as to avoid congested driving conditions and large population centers.
What Hazardous Materials Can Hazmat Semi-Trucks Carry?
The types of chemicals and materials that a semi-truck certified for transport of hazardous materials can carry fall into one of the following nine hazardous material classifications:
Class 1 – Explosives: Materials with the potential to create an explosion, explosives with a projection hazard, blasting agents, and detonating devices.
Class 2 – Gases: Hazardous gases that are flammable, as well as non-flammable compressed gas, and gases that are toxic.
Class 3 – Flammable Liquids: The most common of transported hazardous materials, flammable liquids include gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, motor oil, kerosene, ethanol, and so-on.
Class 4 – Flammable Solids and Spontaneously Combustible Materials: This category includes sulphur, activated charcoal, aluminum powder, and magnesium, as well as household items such as matches and sulfur.
Class 5 – Oxidizers and Organic Peroxides: Chemical compounds that cause or enhance the burning of other materials are known as oxidizers. Certain organic peroxides can also be explosive.
Class 6 – Toxic Materials and Infectious Substances: This category includes poisons that aren’t gases (such as rat poison), as well as infectious biological materials.
Class 7 – Radioactive Materials: Any material considered to be radioactive requires special handling and management as required by federal law, as it is an obvious danger that can last years, decades or even centuries if spilled into the environment.
Class 8 – Corrosive Materials: Strong acids and bases must be transported with care, as they can quickly burn and corrode.
Class 9 – Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods: Dangerous substances that don’t meet the specific criteria of one of the other classes may be designated as Class 9 hazards. For example, lithium batteries and dry ice fall into this category because they don’t easily fit into any other category, though can still be dangerous.
Dangers of Hazardous Material Carrying Semi-Trucks
The hazardous materials that are carried by certain semi-trucks have the ability to cause injuries that go far beyond the usual injuries one would expect from a trucking accident. Many of the chemicals that are transported via hazmat truck spread very quickly and can greatly increase the scope of harm that a truck accident may normally have if spilled.
One of the most common hazardous materials involved in hazmat truck accidents is flammable liquids like oil and gas. These can easily leak and spill from a tanker for many reasons. Once they spill they can spread to other vehicles and cause them to burn or light surrounding property on fire - a significant threat, particularly in the summer months in Oregon.
Contact an Experienced Oregon Truck Accident Attorney
With an experienced trucking attorney at your side, you have a much higher chance at success when pursuing an accident claim. Not only will your claim more likely to be successful (i.e., you are more likely to win), but your lawyer can help negotiate a much better settlement than you could on your own. Even with a lawyer’s fee taken into account, settlements obtained when the victim has a lawyer consistently remain larger than those when someone tries to handle their claim on their own. There is no substitute for expert knowledge when it comes to proving that the truck driver and/or trucking company was liable for the accident, and seeking compensation for damages like past and future medical expenses, lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one suffered from personal injuries as the result of a truck accident, you are entitled to compensation for your economic damages as well as for your pain and suffering. Take advantage for your no-risk, free consultation with Dwyer Williams Cherkoss Attorneys, PC - your premier personal injury and truck accident lawyers in Oregon. Our attorneys are happy to speak with you about your trucking accident and what legal options are available to you. We are here to fight for your right to operate your vehicle in safety, and they can advise you as to whether you have a claim for personal injuries under Oregon law.