Truck Accidents Involving Hazardous Materials in Florida
Vehicle accidents involving trucks are tragic enough, so imagine the dire consequences one may face being involved in a truck accident where hazardous materials were being hauled. It’s beyond tragic; in fact, miles of highway will be closed and, in some cases, houses will be evacuated to accommodate a cleanup team’s request.
Hazardous materials present challenges not only for cleanup crews, but for the scores of drivers who encounter the spill. In addition, determining fault isn’t always clear in these cases.
Let’s look at how accidents of this nature happen, who may be at fault, and what victims may be entitled to.
Hazmat Accidents Can Be Incredibly Serious
May 11, 1976 saw one of America’s more devastating hazardous material accidents happen in Houston, Texas. A trucker driving in excess of posted speed toppled over, spilling 7,000 gallons of ammonia onto the highway, killing 7 and injuring 200.
This wasn’t your household cleaning ammonia that spilled. Instead, it was undiluted, pure anhydrous ammonia, lethal to anyone who mishandled it. Even stronger than what you’d use to fertilize fields, the fumes themselves could kill anyone who breathed them in.
Accidents like this may not happen frequently, but when they do, fatalities can rise quickly, especially when radioactive materials, liquid nitrogen, gasoline and other explosives make contact with another vehicle.
Liable Parties in Hazardous Material Accidents
Assessing damages in truck accidents often uncovers the at-fault party. When hazardous materials are involved, the liability circle grows a little wider.
For one, the company responsible for filling the tank may not have properly sealed their material within the tank. This could have caused an excess amount of foreign liquid to spill that would’ve otherwise stayed sealed.
Then there’s the trucking company. Was maintenance performed before releasing a vehicle to the driver? Did the truck driver’s request for new brakes or tires go unresolved? These and other questions may implicate the carrier, too.
What about the semi manufacturer? Perhaps they outfitted an 18-wheeler with malfunctioning parts or those subject to recall, causing other motor functions to fail.
In some cases, the driver’s tiredness, intoxication, distractedness or disobedience of traffic signals may cause serious injuries or fatalities to others. That being said, any seasoned attorney will still take a comprehensive approach when determining fault.
Hazmat Accident Victims Have Options
Accidents involving trucks carrying 40 tons of explosive, corrosive or biohazard material cause more than just damage to vehicles. They create local health emergencies that affect hundreds, if not thousands, and may have serious civil consequences for the trucking company, driver, material provider or others.
Persons injured or loved ones representing deceased victims of these terrible accidents may be entitled to compensation for the incident, with the exact amount determined by the severity of accident and other underlying factors.