Tanker Truck Accident Lawyer in Houston
You probably see tanker trucks on the road every day of the week. Yet many people may not realize the increased risk of injury and death that results from a tanker accident. Tanker trucks are large, heavy commercial vehicles that typically carry various types of liquids or gases. These substances are extremely dangerous and often flammable. If a tanker truck is involved in a crash, the contents may spill and cause serious risk to the public. If you were involved in an accident with a tanker truck, you need legal help from experienced tanker truck crash attorneys in Houston.
Risks include the increased potential for fire and explosion. In addition, some substances are toxic when you breathe them, making them a danger to people who are nearby when the material escapes into the environment. When fuel and other substances leak onto the road in an accident, they can easily catch fire. Diesel fuel and other substance fires are difficult to put out and hazardous to other drivers. A small spark can cause the entire area to ignite quickly.
Tanker trucks that carry hazardous materials are required to travel on designated Haz-Mat routes in Houston. 610 Loop is designated as an Haz-Mat route and these vehicles are not allowed to travel directly through the city of Houston. In addition, the Pierce Elevated and Highway 59 Overpass are also Haz-Mat routes. Haz-mat teams have the training to resolve hazardous situations. They have the means and the equipment to neutralize spills and clean spills to prevent further damage.
Tanker truck drivers must have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME). Drivers obtain the HME through the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Drivers must complete the application process that includes four parts. They must complete the application, pass a hazardous materials endorsement knowledge exam, submit to fingerprinting, and pass a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security threat assessment. Drivers must meet the minimum eligibility requirements to obtain an HME.
The Department of Transportation has specific regulations in place that apply to the transportation of fuel and other similar materials. Trucks must be properly registered and permitted, and those credentials must be renewed each year. The carrier must obtain a Hazardous Materials Safety Permit before each trip. Companies are required to provide employee training to anyone who handles, loads unload or transports hazardous materials. Training must include general awareness, job-specific, security awareness, and hazmat safety. Employees need to be retrained every three years or whenever they have a change in job function.
Are Tanker Truck Accidents Different From Other Truck Crashes?
Commercial trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when they are fully loaded. When you get into a crash with a huge truck it can cause devastating injuries and fatalities. A tanker truck accident can be even more destructive. Tankers often contain liquid materials that can shift significantly if the vehicle comes to a sudden stop. This can cause the tanker to get out of control and it may rollover. In addition to the large size and heavyweight, tanker trucks contain dangerous substances that take the accident to a much more perilous level. For instance, in addition to typical injuries such as head trauma, neck and back injuries, and broken bones, victims may also have severe chemical or fire burns and inhalation injuries. These differences can be significant compared to a garbage truck accident.
What are Recoverable Losses After a Tanker Truck Accident?
Tanker truck companies are required to carry at least a $3,000,000 insurance policy. Because of the great amount of money that could be at stake, companies often have a dedicated legal team in place to handle any accident claims. You need to have your own skilled Houston tanker truck accident attorney representing your interests. The expenses involved in medical recovery following a severe tanker accident can be astronomical. The negligent party should pay for your damages. Damages may include any physical, mental, and emotional harm that you suffered due to the accident. Some of the most common recoverable losses include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
Damages encompass both tangible and intangible costs. Make sure that you keep all of your medical records and bills to prove the tangible losses in your case.
What Steps Should I Take After a Tanker Truck Accident?
If you are the victim of a tanker truck crash, you may be critically hurt. The police will make an accident report and investigate the crash. Move away from the crash scene if you are able to do so to avoid further injuries. A hazmat team may need to clean up any spills that occurred. The police will take statements from the drivers and from witnesses. Seek medical care immediately after the accident. A severe head injury, burn or inhalation injury could worsen without treatment. Another reason to visit the doctor as soon as possible is to make sure you can prove that the injury happened as a result of the accident. Contact a skilled Houston tanker truck crash attorney to handle your claim. Do not speak with the insurance company or accept a settlement check until you seek guidance from your lawyer. You do not want to do something that could harm your case. You may be entitled to a fair amount of compensation for your injuries.
Why are Tanker Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
Trucks are a necessity to transport products across the country. About a quarter of the freight that trucks transport is carried by tanker trucks, according to National Tank Truck Carriers (NTTC). Tanker trucks can transport a wide variety of substances including gasoline, oil, pesticides, chemicals, petroleum-based products, and many others. Accidents that involve hazardous material spills can be dangerous for other drivers and for people living in the community.
Tanker Truck Regulations
In Texas, truck drivers must obtain a tank vehicle endorsement (N endorsement) on their CDL license to operate a tank truck. In addition, the driver must have a hazardous materials endorsement (H endorsement) to transport hazardous substances that include flammable liquids, gasses, and explosives. Drivers must pass a state and federal background check.
Tankers that carry certain types of loads must display a hazardous material sign. In addition, Houston provides special truck routes that tankers must utilize when they carry hazardous materials. The sign is a warning to other drivers and first responders if an accident occurs or spills. For example, if a spill occurs, responders must take precautions to prevent an explosion or fire.
What Causes Tanker Truck Accidents?
Many things can cause tanker truck accidents. Tanker trucks are large, heavy, and difficult to maneuver. Because of their size and shape, they are more difficult to control than other types of trucks. Tanker truck accidents can generally be classified into several categories:
- Human error
- Vehicle conditions
- Load weight and size
Driver error includes such actions as speeding, distracted driving, improper lane changing, and more. Among truck accident condition factors, the most common are tire blowouts and brake malfunctions. The cargo is inside the tank; however, it can shift during transit, causing the center of gravity to change. The driver can lose control and the tanker may rollover. Tanker trucks can be heavy and could become uncontrollable if the driver makes a sudden maneuver.
Dangers of Tanker Truck Crashes
Tanker trucks often carry hazardous materials. When a tanker crashes, the contents can spill or leak, creating a danger to those. Some dangers include:
- Fire and explosion
- Toxic fumes
- Chemical spills
A fire and explosion can occur when flammable materials spill out of the truck. Chemical spills can cause burns to those who get the substance on them in the accident. Toxic fumes can be dangerous because a plume of toxins could get into the air and endanger the public. Besides truck accident injuries such as head trauma, broken bones, and neck and back injuries, victims could experience additional serious injuries such as burns, lung injuries, and more.
Do I Need an Attorney Following a Tanker Truck Accident?
Some people try to handle typical accident settlements on their own. However, when it comes to tanker truck accidents and injuries, the stakes are much higher. It can be difficult to negotiate with the insurance company and you could end up getting less than your damages are worth.
Without a lawyer to protect your rights, you might end up without payment. You need help from a reputable Houston tanker truck accident lawyer. We know how to handle the complex issues of truck accidents. We have received millions of dollars in personal injury cases for our clients and we can represent you in fighting for the compensation you deserve.