Sadly, accidents involving tractor-trailers carrying hazardous cargo and fuel are not rare. When an accident involving a tractor-trailer results in a fuel spill, injuries and even wrongful death are likely to occur.
Commercial trucks carrying fuel pose special risks on the highway. They may carry liquids or gas, which can be hazardous – or "hazmat" in trucking lingo. Hazmat cargo can include diesel fuel, gasoline, acid, hazardous waste, and radioactive materials. These shipments can be extremely dangerous if they leak or are compromised in any way.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, tanker trucks that are hauling hazmat account for less than 10 percent of all truck shipments in the United States; however, that still amounts to an average of 800,000 hazmat shipments throughout the country each day. Each year, hazmat tanker trucks are involved in an average of 225 fatal accidents and 1,000 other injury accidents. Among the accident risks are:
- Fire — The cargo hauled by a hazmat tanker truck drastically increases the risk of fire. A spark from a collision can ignite flammable liquid in the tanker truck.
- Explosion — Explosions often account for the relatively high rate of fatal injuries in tanker truck crashes.
- Chemical burns — Some hazardous materials carried by a tanker truck can result in serious chemical burns if anyone comes into contact with the material.
- Toxic Exposure — Radioactive material can injure anyone in the vicinity if the material leaks out in a crash.
- Leaching — Chemicals from a leaking tanker can contaminate groundwater, endangering people who live or work in the area.
In the case of truck accidents, it can be difficult to determine liability. A person injured in a truck accident can pursue a personal injury action to recover damages for their injuries from a truck company or truck owner. In many cases, these companies are experienced in litigation and familiar with tactics to avoid or decrease their potential liability and financial exposure.
However, where a trucking company is determined to be at fault, medical expenses and other compensation may be awarded to an injured party. It is often unclear who may be liable in a truck accident, but an experienced attorney can investigate the incident to determine whether truck driver fatigue, improper operation of a vehicle, negligent maintenance, or other causes may have been at play in the incident. Pennsylvanians injured as a result of a truck accident should know that they may be entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
When you have sustained a serious injury, you need a top Philadelphia truck accident lawyer from the Lassen Law Firm.