The event of a Hazardous Material Transport truck accident poses more problems than the vehicular collision itself. These incidents not only have immediate effects to the people involved, but they can present long term health problems as a result of hazardous material exposure and environmental contamination.
If you or someone you know has sustained a serious injury due to a hazardous material transport accident, here is some useful information regarding Hazardous Material Transport and what to do next.
What Defines Hazardous Material Transportation?
Hazardous Material Transportation is the transportation of materials that cause harm to an individual, other living organisms, the environment and other property when not wearing or utilizing some barrier of protection against these dangerous good.
The term Hazardous Materials includes: Hazardous Substances, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Pollutants, Elevated Temperature Material, Materials identified in 172.101, and Materials also meeting the definitions within Part 173.
When transporting hazardous materials carriers in Alabama must adhere to Federal mandated guidelines by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) which include a sizeable list of responsibilities and requirements.
Carriers must at all times uphold the following:
Valid shipping papers
Placard and mark vehicle
Loading and unloading documentation
Blocking and bracing
Hazardous Material (HM) carriers, are typically marked with a HAZMAT sign or sticker – which follow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S Department of Transportation codes identity the vehicle among civilian traffic.
Accidents involving chemicals or hazardous materials are very problematic for land and water nearby as some materials can cause permanent damage. With both short and long term effects, an accident can cause problems or complications to a person’s health after the accident who was not even directly involved in the event.
Such materials carried in Hazardous Material Transportation can be:
Used Nuclear Fuel
In addition, hazardous materials are also designated by class:
Class 1 – Explosives
Class 2 – Gases
Class 3 – Flammable Liquid
Class 4 – Flammable Solids
Class 5 – Oxidizing Substances; Organic Peroxides
Class 6 – Poisonous (Toxic) and Infectious Subsctances
Class 7 – Radioactive Material
Class 8 – Corrosives
Class 9 – Miscellaneous Dangerous Goods
Given the volatile nature of the majority of these goods, extreme caution should always be taken by the carrier, the driver, as well as all other vehicles on the road. Like any other accident, a momentary distraction or hesitation in judgement while driving becomes deadly in mere moments when you include a hazardous material truck into the mix.
For example, in July of 2015, in Shelby County, AL a fuel-tanker was involved in a head on collision with a small passenger car, the driver of which died as a result of the collision. In addition the hazardous material truck driver sustained critical injuries and two other people were injured as well.
Southern Alabama sees these types of incidents often, especially in Escambia and Mobile Counties which have a very high volume of 18 wheeler truck traffic on its highways. Even as recent as August 5, 2015 Mobile County saw Interstate I-10 heading east shut down for hours as workers were on scene cleaning up a hazmat incident in which a tanker truck overturned while carrying nitrobenzene. Less than 5 gallons leaked from the truck, yet still this small amount of hazardous material shut down a major interstate for hours.
Hazardous Material Accidents in Mobile and Escambia Counties
In the event of a Hazardous Material vehicular accident many factors are at play and the primary contributing circumstance to what caused the accident can vary greatly from driver fatigue, distracted driving, aggressive maneuvers, speeding and more. In addition, no matter how minor or common the incident which caused the accident may seem, when hazardous materials are factored into the accident the likelihood of a serious injury or even death exponentially increases.
Looking at our local area, since 2009* in Escambia County Alabama there have been 962 vehicular accidents which involved some level of injury caused a driver hauling hazardous material. 40% of these incidents involved a fatality or an incapacitating, life-altering injury. 310 of these accidents were due to misjudging stopping distances, while 224 of them, and were caused by following to close.
If we look at Mobile County as well, since 2009 we see a similar trend as well. Both misjudging stopping distance and following too close contributed more than 3x as many accidents each as any other event which caused a hazardous cargo accident.
Hire a Hazardous Material Accident Attorney With Experience
If you were involved in a hazardous truck accident where the driver failed to follow regulations or the common rules of the road, you may be entitled to compensation. Hazardous Material carriers are required to follow an extremely rigid set of federal and state guidelines. Therefore, when those guidelines are not followed or are ignored completely by the driver the company can be held liable for damages caused to both person and property.
Filing an accident or injury claim against a hazardous material carrier requires a great deal of expertise as there are both state and federal guidelines HM carriers must adhere to. Therefore, consider speaking with an 18 wheeler accident attorney who knows the local, state, and federal laws as well as the proper procedures to filing this type of claim. Noel B. Leonard, is a local Alabama truck accident attorney and can discuss the facts surrounding your case with you. Being a Foley injury lawyer, Noel works regularly with accident victims within Escambia, Baldwin, and Mobile Counties. Contact Attorney Leonard today to schedule a consultation or call 251-732-2701.