One of the few things worse than a collision with a tractor-trailer is a crash involving a large truck or chemical tanker truck transporting hazardous chemicals.
Depending on the type of hazardous material being shipped, a crash may mean an explosion and fire, significant injuries to the motorists involved, or environmental damage if the truck rolls over and a spill occurs.
Truck drivers and hazmat trucking companies that transport hazardous chemicals are required to have higher amounts of liability insurance because of the potential harm a crash may cause.
The Nine Classes of Hazardous Materials and Their Risks
Hazardous material trucking companies and commercial carriers that transport certain hazardous materials are required to have a federal hazardous materials safety permit.
Classifications of Hazardous Materials
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration classifies hazardous materials into nine categories. Each time a vehicle carries hazardous material, the vehicle must be properly categorized and marked. The nine classes include:
- Flammable liquid and combustible liquid;
- Flammable solid, spontaneously combustible, and dangerous when wet;
- Oxidizer and organic peroxide;
- Poison and poison inhalation hazard;
- Corrosive; and
Each type of hazardous material listed above poses a unique risk in the event that a large truck carrying the hazardous material collides with other vehicles.
Hazardous materials can cause:
- Thermal burn injuries;
- Explosions resulting in burn injuries, amputation injuries, loss of hearing;
- Chemical burns;
- Exposure to cancer-causing chemicals; and
- Other injuries caused by corrosive materials.
Additional Risks of Hazardous Trucks
In addition to injuries to drivers and passengers, there is a risk to surrounding property and the environment. For example, toxic fumes can pose an immediate health hazard for all those within the area. If chemicals or radioactive materials seep into the ground, water supplies may be affected for years to come, posing health risks for all who live or work in the area.
Chemical Hauling Companies Duty to Transport Hazardous Materials Safely
When the transport of hazardous materials is necessary, chemical trucking companies must comply with a number of safety standards to reduce the risk of a hazardous material spill or combustion. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates carriers of hazardous materials, conducts inspections, issues notices, and helps to educate drivers of hazardous material trucks.
Despite the seriousness of an accident fact, some trucking companies and cargo shippers are careless with safety precautions regarding the transport of hazardous chemicals., putting everyone at risk.
Truck safety inspectors conducted 1,755 roadside inspections of trucks carrying hazardous materials in Indiana in 2015 to check compliance with regulations, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The inspectors ordered approximately 2.5 percent of the trucks inspected in Indiana off the road because of safety violations. Nationwide, approximately 4 percent of trucks carrying hazardous materials failed roadside inspections and were taken out of service
A list of Top 25 Cargo Tank Manufacturing Violations includes:
- Hazardous Material Improperly Secured. One of the biggest mistakes that can be made is the improper securement of hazardous materials in the loading phase of transport. Improper securement increases the risk of the hazardous materials shifting while en route and raises the risk of an accident or explosion, depending upon the material. An improper secured load is at greater risk of spilling or falling off a truck.
- Driver error. A huge burden is placed on the shoulders of the truck driver who is tasked with the transport of hazardous materials. If the truck driver fails to perform this duty, on the road may be at risk. Examples of driver errors that could lead to a hazardous materials spill include taking a turn at an unsafe speed, following another vehicle too closely, driving while impaired, driving while distracted, and speeding.
- Vehicle Not Placarded as Required. Trucks that transport certain amounts of hazardous materials are required to have warning placards and hazmat signs indicating the types of materials being transported. There are some exceptions based on the type of material and the quantity being transported.
In the event that a truck accident causes a hazardous material spill, it is important that an investigation is done to determine liability. If you or your loved one has been injured, a truck accident attorney can conduct an investigation on your behalf, determining who may be held responsible for the related injuries. Potentially liable parties include the manufacturer of the hazardous material, the manufacturer of the cargo tank, the loader of the hazardous material, or the hazmat trucking company that transported the hazardous cargo.
What to Do After a Truck Accident with Hazardous Materials in Indiana
Trucks transporting hazardous materials should make safety a priority. If improperly handled, hazardous materials can cause a disaster. If you have been involved in an accident with a truck or tanker carrying hazardous material, you should seek medical care immediately. Then, you need to contact an attorney who can fight for your rights to full compensation amount.
At the law offices of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC, our Indiana truck accident attorneys know what it takes to build a strong case after a truck accident with hazardous materials. If you have suffered losses, let us work for you. Contact us today online or by phone to learn more about our services and your options.