Fuel and Tanker Truck Accidents

truck collision with a car

Fuel tanker truck drivers haul fuel and other flammable gases and liquids. Transporting hazardous liquids and gases requires a great deal of skill and extra driver certification. When truck drivers operate fuel/tanker trucks in a careless or reckless manner, they put other motorists at risk of being involved in an accident and suffering serious injury.

Tanker truck drivers and truck owners are required to carry higher amounts of liability insurance because of the damage a fuel tanker accident can cause. If a negligent truck driver injures you or a loved one in a fuel/tanker truck accident, you may be entitled to seek compensation for damages you incurred in your accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

When you or a loved one has been injured in a tanker truck crash, you need knowledgeable, skilled legal representation. Since 1999, the Indianapolis truck accident attorneys of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC have helped victims of tanker truck accidents pursue full compensation to get their lives back to normal. We have five offices across the state of Indiana to help serve you.

Our attorneys have received awards including the 2014 and 2015 Litigator Award and a 10 Best Law Firm of 2015 award from the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys, in addition to being named to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, which recognizes attorneys who have obtained $1 million-plus settlements and verdicts.

We are honored by the positive testimonials offered by former clients. If you’ve been in a fuel/tanker truck accident in Indiana, contact Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLC at (800) 746-0226 or fill out the contact form on our website to schedule a free case evaluation. Call today to learn more about how our firm can help you secure a successful outcome in your case.

Common Causes for Fuel/Tanker Truck Accidents

Fuel tankers are large vehicles that require driver training and experience to operate safely. Tanker trucks have a higher center of gravity and can roll over if a load of liquid fuel shifts suddenly inside the tank by taking a curve too fast. A tanker truck driver must focus on operating the truck safely and stay alert to any changes in traffic conditions. When a truck driver lacks adequate training or gets distracted behind the wheel, the driver puts other motorists at risk. Some of the common causes of tanker truck accidents include:

  • Speeding— The more quickly a truck is moving, the more distance the truck will need to slow down and stop. If a fuel tanker driver must make an emergency maneuver, the driver may not have time to stop safely or lose control of the vehicle if it’s traveling at a speed that is unsafe for the existing traffic conditions.
  • Fatigued driving—Driving fatigue is a common problem for commercial truck drivers. Tanker truck drivers may become dangerously fatigued if they disregard the hours-of-service limits on driving and spend too many hours driving without adequate rest breaks. A fatigued driver may fail to react to a traffic stoppage or nod off at the wheel and cause a catastrophic accident.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs—A truck driver who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs has impaired judgment and reacts more slowly to changes in traffic conditions.
  • Unsafe lane changes—Fuel truck drivers may cause an accident by colliding with a vehicle in a blind spot.
  • Distracted driving—Truck drivers may be distracted by a cell phone, radio, or GPS device and cause a collision
  • Inexperienced drivers—Fuel tankers and tanker trucks handle differently than other 18 wheelers. Commercial drivers are required to have additional training to operate a tanker truck.
  • Improper or unsafely loaded cargo – An unsafe or improperly loaded tanker truck makes it harder for the driver to control the vehicle, particularly in emergency situations.

In addition to common causes of fuel/tanker truck accidents attributable to the truck and/or truck driver, other common causes of fuel/tanker truck accidents include other negligent motorists who initiate an accident with the truck, bad weather, low lighting, brake failure or tire failure, and poor road surface conditions.

Who’s Liable in a Tanker Truck Accident

When a tanker truck causes an accident on an Indiana road or highway, there are several parties who may be at fault. In some crashes, multiple parties may share responsibility for the accident, including:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • The truck’s owner, if the truck or trailer aren’t owned by the trucking company
  • The company that loaded the tanker
  • The company responsible for maintaining the truck or tanker trailer
  • The manufacturer of the truck or tanker trailer or a part in either that is later found to be defective

Your attorneys will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the accident to understand which party or parties may be at fault.

Common Types of Tanker Truck Accidents

Some of the most common kinds of fuel/tanker truck accidents include:

  • Sideswipe accidents, which usually occur when a truck driver fails to signal a lane change or check a mirror before changing lanes
  • Rear-end collisions, which usually happen because the truck either was speeding or was tailgating
  • Head-on collisions, which may occur if the truck driver fails to yield, falls asleep or travels the wrong way down a road or street
  • T-bone collisions, which can happen if a truck fails to yield on a turn
  • Overturning accidents, which can happen if the driver loses control of the truck, usually during an emergency maneuver, and usually if the truck is speeding or is improperly loaded
  • Cargo spills, which can happen if the tanker overturns

Fuel/tanker truck accidents may involve one other vehicle or, in certain circumstances, may involve multiple vehicles, potentially injuring several people.

Injuries Associated with Fuel/Tanker Truck Accidents

As a heavy truck, a fuel/tanker truck has the potential to inflict serious injuries on other victims involved in an accident with the truck. Injuries frequently associated with fuel/tanker truck accidents include:

  • Cuts, lacerations or contusions, which can lead to severe bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Strains and tears of tendons, ligaments, and muscles
  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Organ damage or injury and/or internal bleeding
  • Neck and back injuries, especially herniated or ruptured discs
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Amputations
  • Burns caused by a fire or explosion started by the accident
  • Head injuries, including injuries to the ears and eyes
  • Traumatic brain injury

Given the deadly force that a tanker truck can impart in a collision and the hazardous cargo that such a truck carries, tanker truck accidents can result in injuries that are permanent, cause severe burns and scarring or that may even be fatal.

Government Regulations for Tanker Trucks

semi truck going off roadTanker trucks pose special risks in accidents compared to other types of commercial trucks. Fuel tankers tend to have a higher center of gravity. If a tanker is carrying a partial load of fuel, the liquid cargo may shift inside the tank, causing a rollover accident. The truck can pose a risk of a fire or explosion or other disasters if it is carrying flammable or hazardous materials.

Typically, a commercial truck is regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration if it weighs 10,000 pounds or more. However, due to the particularly hazardous nature of fuel/tanker trucks, the FMSCA regulates all tanker trucks regardless of their size or weight.

In addition, the FMSCA imposes regulations on commercial vehicles and trucks that carry the cargo of loaded liquid or gaseous containers larger than a 119-gallon capacity, when the combined volume of the containers being carried exceeds 1,000 gallons.

The FMSCA requires truck drivers who operate tanker trucks or who haul liquid or gas containers to obtain a tanker endorsement for their commercial driver’s license. Fuel/tanker trailers must also meet design specification requirements set forth by the government.

Finally, tanker trucking companies and truck drivers must meet various requirements when hauling the different types of hazardous cargo, including flammable liquids, flammable solids, and other substances, corrosive substances, and radioactive materials.

Recoverable Compensation

If you or a loved one has been injured in a fuel/tanker truck accident, you deserve to be compensated for the damages you have suffered as a result of your injuries, including:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Lost quality of life
  • Pain and suffering

You may also be entitled to recover compensation for property damage, including repair costs or the cash value of your totaled vehicle.

If you’ve been injured in a fuel/tanker truck accident, contact the Indianapolis truck accident attorneys of Craig, Kelley & Faultless LLP to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the details of your case and to learn more about your legal rights and options. Call us at (800) 746-0226 or fill out the contact form on our website to talk to us today.