Tanker trucks are a prominent feature on American roads, transporting almost a quarter of all freight across the country. These trucks should not be dangerous because of the federal regulations that govern their operation, maintenance, and specifications. However, their size and the nature of their cargo pose unique dangers when they get into accidents. These accidents result in severe injuries, fatalities, and damage that cause victims and families financial and non-financial loss. This article explores the factors that make tanker truck accidents so dangerous.
Explosions and Fire
Tanker trucks often transport combustible and flammable materials, including ethanol, industrial and agricultural chemicals, gasoline, and diesel. When these trucks are involved in an accident, the tanker can get punctured or leak, releasing the materials being transported.
These materials can explode if they come into contact with other elements or heat. When they do not explode, they can still catch fire and put everyone in the vicinity in danger.
These explosions and fires mean those involved in the accident suffer more severe damage and injuries than those involved in other types of truck accidents. Survivors can suffer severe burns that require numerous surgeries and long-term hospital stays and care. They might also require skin grafts and be left with life-long scars.
Higher Risk of Being Crushed
Tanker trucks are at a higher risk of rollover accidents because of their heights and how difficult they are to maneuver. Even though most rollover accidents only involve the truck, there is the risk of smaller cars being crushed when these accidents happen.
In almost all cases, such accidents are fatal due to the truck’s weight. Families that lose loved ones this way can sue for wrongful death, especially if the driver’s actions led to the accident.
Survivors can suffer long-term injuries, including brain, neck, and spinal injuries, and are at a higher risk of disability if their injuries necessitate an amputation. They can file a personal injury lawsuit to be compensated for their medical expenses and other damages, including long-term pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, inability to work, lost wages, and rehabilitation.
Release of Toxic Fumes
Most chemicals transported by tanker trucks will cause severe injuries if they come into contact with the skin. However, some cause damage if inhaled. These fumes are so dangerous because the person might not realize they inhaled them until they start having health complications, which is common if the fumes are odorless.
These fumes can cause eye irritation, coughing, and vomiting. They can also cause permanent eye damage if they are dangerous enough, and breathing difficulties if they cause the throat and nose to swell.
Chemical Spills and Leaks That Cause Environmental Damage
Depending on the amount of material that leaks and its nature, a tanker truck accident can cause a whole area to be evacuated since businesses, homes, and individuals near the crash will be impacted by the leak and noxious fumes. Once all parties are evacuated, responders will clean up the spill the best they can and only let people return to their homes and businesses once they deem the area safe.
The economic damage resulting from these events can be significant and devastating for smaller towns that rely on daily commerce.
There is also the risk of long-term effects on people and animals in the area. If the spill is not cleaned up immediately, the dangerous chemicals could end up in the water sources. The result is long-term exposure that can lead to numerous health issues in the future.
The Risk of Secondary Accidents
Tanker truck accidents can result in additional vehicle accidents that happen after the primary crash. These accidents happen because other drivers might not have time to react to the primary accident and end up colliding with the truck or other vehicles.
These accidents can also be due to issues like oil spills that make the road slippery and dangerous. This further underscores the importance of cleaning up the spilled chemicals and materials as soon as possible and alerting other drivers of the danger ahead.
Who is Liable for Tanker Truck Accidents?
Understanding how dangerous these accidents can be and the damage they cause, you might be wondering who could be liable if you ever get into such accidents. A personal injury or truck accident attorney can help you determine liability and file a lawsuit, but several parties could be responsible.
The first is the driver. Reckless driving, speeding, distracted driving, ignoring traffic laws, and failure to yield are some of the many causes of these accidents where the driver could be negligent. The driver can also be liable if they did not ensure the truck was safe to drive before getting on the road.
The other is the trucking company. You can sue them for various reasons, including:
- Failure to maintain their tanker trucks – The company has to complete routine inspections and service its trucks regularly to ensure they are safe to drive. Managers must also examine the tank to ensure it does not have leaks or is not likely to fail when transporting the cargo.
- Negligent hiring – Any company that does not do proper due diligence when hiring drivers could be liable if they get into an accident. For example, the business might have missed that one of its drivers has several DUI records or speeding tickets. Such a driver is more likely to get into an accident and should not be driving an 80,000-tonne truck.
- Failure to supervise drivers – The trucking company should ensure all its drivers follow federal rules and regulations and have measures to terminate or discipline drivers who do not.
Tanker truck accidents are not only dangerous because of their weight, but also because of the material they transport. These materials can explode, cause fires, lead to environmental devastation, and cause severe injuries when they leak or spill. Accidents involving tanker trucks can get complicated, but our attorneys at Pencheff and Fraley have experience dealing with them and can help you get the compensation they deserve.
You can visit our offices to discuss your accident at the following locations:
- Westerville – 4151 Executive Pkwy, Suite 355, Westerville, OH 43081
- Mansfield – 33 S. Lexington-Springmill Rd, Mansfield, OH 44906
Alternatively, you can call us now for a free consultation and no-obligation case evaluation on (614) 224-4114.