Filing a compensation claim after being involved in a hazmat truck accident
Truck accidents are often catastrophic, mostly because they weigh much more and are much larger than average vehicles. For this reason, there is an increased risk of casualties and severe injuries in case of a collision.
Accidents involving trucks carrying hazardous materials (otherwise known as “hazmat” trucks) are even more dangerous and deadly than the average truck accidents because of several reasons.
- Some hazmat trucks carry combustible and dangerous liquids like gasoline. When spilled, it makes the road slippery, thus increasing the risk of multiple vehicle accidents.
- The exposure to fumes or other toxins, which may not show symptoms immediately, might cause future complications.
- Shifting of cargo being hauled may throw a truck off balance and increases the chances of a jackknife or rollover accident.
If you’ve been involved in a hazmat truck accident, reach out to our Macon truck accident attorneys today so we can begin the process of fighting for your rights.
Types of hazardous materials transported by commercial trucks
Hazmat trucks are authorized to haul hazardous material like gas, liquid cargo and flammable or explosive solids. There are many restrictions placed on them to minimize serious accidents and injuries on the roads. For instance, truck drivers must have a hazardous material endorsement that shows their training in proper procedures and precautions required to transport these dangerous materials.
In addition, hazmat truck drivers are only allowed to use certain roads and are restricted from traveling at specific times to avoid large population areas and congested driving conditions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has also classified hazardous materials into 9 classifications. These classes are to be marked using visor cards on all sides of a hazmat truck.
- Class 1: Explosives – They are materials that can potentially cause an explosion or act as blasting agents, projectiles or detonating devices.
- Class 2: Gases – Hazardous compressed gases that are flammable or non-flammable as well as toxic.
- Class 3: Flammable liquids – These are the most commonly transported hazardous materials. They include gasoline, motor oil, kerosene, diesel or jet fuel and ethanol.
- Class 4: Flammable solids – These are spontaneously combustible and dangerous when wet. The category features aluminum powder, activated charcoal, magnesium and household items like matches and sulfur.
- Class 5: Oxidizer and organic peroxide – The substances in this category enhance the burning of other materials, and some may also be explosive.
- Class 6: Toxic materials and infectious substances – They include poisons that are not gas or liquid, such as rat poison. Also in this category is infectious biological materials, which are pathogens and whose exposure can cause death or disability in humans or animals.
- Class 7: Radioactive materials – These require special handling and management per federal law. When spilled, they can cause harm that lasts years, decades or centuries to nearby residents and the environment.
- Class 8: Corrosive materials – Strong acids and base materials that can quickly burn or corrode belong to this class.
- Class 9: Miscellaneous and general dangerous goods – This class is fit for dangerous substances that don’t fall in any of the above classes. Examples include lithium batteries—which are not hazardous when handled correctly—and dry ice formed of carbon dioxide gas, which may lower the carbon dioxide percentage in the air, potentially causing harm.
Injuries by hazmat truck accidents
Hazmat truck injuries can be life-changing, if not fatal. Most of them result in the following:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Second and third-degree burns
- Temporary irritation to the skin and eyes
- Long-term respiratory and neurological conditions
- Traumatic brain damage
In one such accident, 2 people miraculously reported only minor injuries after a truck carrying hazardous mining explosives overturned on a busy highway in Dawson County, GA. The road had to be closed for several hours to allow a hazmat contractor to clean up the spilled product.
Filing a hazmat truck accident injury claim in Georgia
Georgia is an at-fault state, meaning the person liable for the accident is expected to cover any damages caused, including lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering and property damage. However, in truck accidents, several parties may be blamed even if you are partly to blame.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident, the hazmat carrier can be held liable if they fail to maintain proper records and appropriate training for the hauled materials. The truck manufacturer or the hauling company may also be liable for faulty maintenance design defects.
Rather than worry about who is to blame, leave it to a trusted accident lawyer at our law firm to figure out.
What to do after a hazmat truck wreck
First, call 911 and remain at the scene of the accident. If possible, gather evidence by taking pictures of the scene and taking down names and witnesses’ contact information. Get medical assistance as soon as possible, even if your injuries are not physically visible.
It’s also important to consult with an experienced truck crash lawyer immediately to ensure that important evidence is not lost or destroyed. We will advise you on how to go about pursuing your claim and help minimize your degree of fault. We’ll also help negotiate the best settlement for you with the insurance companies.
Let our Macon truck accident lawyers help
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a hazmat truck accident, the law firm of Westmoreland, Patterson, Moseley & Hinson has the resources and experience to thoroughly investigate your claim, determine liability and pursue full and fair compensation for you.