A hazmat truck can pose a serious danger to others on the road. Not only can their large size cause severe or fatal injuries — their hazardous cargo can also result in catastrophic injuries. If you become injured in a trucking accident, you need to know your legal options, including who may be liable for the accident and who you can file a claim against.
In this blog, we discuss different classes of hazardous cargo, why hazmat truck accidents are so dangerous, hazmat truck accident liability, and recovering compensation.
What is Hazardous Cargo?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s definition of hazardous materials includes:
- Hazardous substances
- Hazardous wastes
- Marine pollutants
- Elevated Temperature Material
- Specific materials outlined in 49 CFR 172.101
- Additional materials listed in 49 CFR 173
Semi-trucks can carry different types of hazardous cargo that are grouped into different classes. The materials grouped within each class can cause serious or fatal injuries even if you’re not directly involved in an accident with the trucker.
These classes are:
- Class 1: Explosives, such as ammunition, dynamite, fireworks, and flares
- Class 2: Flammable and toxic gases, such as compressed fluorine, helium, and propane
- Class 3: Flammable liquids, including gas
- Class 4: Flammable solids, including ammonium picrate, sodium hydroxide, and white phosphorus
- Class 5: Organic peroxides and oxidizers, like ammonium nitrate and methyl ethyl ketone
- Class 6: Poison and infectious substances, including anthrax, cyanide, lead compounds, cresols, and other dangerous substances
- Class 7: Radioactive substances, like uranium and isotopes
- Class 8: Corrosives, including battery fluid, acids, and bases
- Class 9: Miscellaneous hazardous materials, like solid dry ice and lithium batteries
The Severity of Hazmat Truck Accidents
Semi-truck accidents frequently lead to serious or fatal injuries because trucks weigh significantly more than standard passenger vehicles. The risk of suffering a catastrophic or fatal injury increases even more when becoming involved in an accident with a truck. Even if you don’t directly collide with a hazmat truck, you can still suffer serious or fatal injuries if they lose or spill their hazardous cargo.
Some of the injuries that hazmat trucks can cause include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Lung damage, which could be permanent
- Organ failure
If you suffer from an injury caused by a hazmat truck in Indiana, you need to contact an Indiana hazmat truck attorney to assist you with recovering compensation.
Who Could Be Liable for a Hazmat Truck Accident?
Hazmat accidents can result from many different problems, and various parties could be responsible. If the wreck resulted from driver negligence, the hazmat truck driver will likely be at fault. Some of the ways in which they may operate their vehicle negligently are if they broke traffic laws, drove while distracted, engaged in reckless driving, drove while tired, or drove while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Before a trucker can transport hazardous materials, they must first earn a hazardous cargo certification, which proves that they have knowledge and skills in transporting dangerous materials. They must also take certain precautions that not all truckers need to abide by including:
- They need to stay with the truck if they’re in a public area and carrying hazardous materials.
- They can’t smoke within 25 feet of the vehicle if they’re carrying explosive or flammable materials.
- They can’t park within five feet of a public street or highway unless they’ll only be parked briefly and they have no other options.
- When obtaining fuel, the hazardous truck cannot be running, and the driver must remain in control during the fueling process.
- The driver must inspect the truck’s tires before their journey begins and every time they park.
Although hazmat truckers are sometimes exclusively at fault, other parties could be liable, such as hazmat trucking companies, shippers, truck manufacturers, and truck maintenance companies. The trucking, manufacturing, or maintenance company can be at fault if the vehicle was equipped with a defective part that caused an accident or if the vehicle wasn’t properly maintained.
The shipping company or the people who loaded the truck could be at fault in the event that they loaded the vehicle negligently, resulting in an accident.
Recovering Compensation After a Hazardous Truck Accident
If you suffered from an injury because of a hazmat truck, you may be able to recover compensation from multiple parties depending on who was solely and partially liable. You can recover compensation from the hazmat truck driver, hazmat trucking company, hazmat truck manufacturer, the company or individuals that loaded the truck, and the hazmat truck maintenance company.
You can seek compensation from hazmat truck insurance companies, and you may be able to recover different forms of compensation including vehicle damages, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and more.
If you become injured in a hazmat truck accident in Indiana, you need to contact an attorney with experience handling Indiana hazmat truck accidents.
Here at Crossen Law Firm, we have years of experience assisting Indiana residents with personal injuries, including injuries caused by hazmat trucks. We’ll work to help you gather evidence and present your case so that you recover the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call our office today at 317-401-8626, or you can contact us online here.