Accidents or collisions involving semi-trucks carrying hazardous materials increase the possibility of other drivers being injured. Flammable materials can explode, launching projectiles into the air and into other lanes of traffic. Toxic chemicals are released, polluting the air, affecting nearby drivers and first responders. Depending on the damage, drivers can wait for hours for these scenes to clear. In worst case scenarios, drivers can face serious injury or even death.
Driving semi-trucks containing hazardous materials is a dangerous job. This is why drivers are required to carry a specific license to prove that they know the rules and risks of what they’re carrying. If a driver misses crucial safety steps, he can endanger not only his own life, but also the lives of everyone around him.
Anyone transporting hazardous materials must adhere to Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) set forth by the federal government. Drivers are usually trained in 3 areas:
Hazmat employers are responsible for training their hazmat employees. Their training covers subjects like proper labeling, protective packaging, and hazard communication. These may seem trivial, but correctly identifying hazardous materials and packaging them securely is the first step to making sure that they are handled properly.
There are also additional trainings drivers must complete if the hazmat in transit surpasses the Materials of Trade regulations, namely: function-specific, general awareness, security awareness and safety as well as passing a written test.
Another important aspect of safety is incident reporting. Hazmat employees are required to document any incident with hazardous materials to the Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), a faction of the US Department of Transportation. They keep record of any instance where proper safety procedures were not followed. This can include inadequate or improper packaging, problems occurring during loading and unloading, inadequate blocking, or securing of packages within transport vehicles. All of these issues can create safety concerns down the road.
Even if the driver is present when the vehicle crashes, he may not be fully responsible for the damage involving the hazardous material. Breakdowns earlier in the process can play a crucial role in the overall result. An item may have been damaged during loading, or a hazmat facility may have mislabeled inventory, causing it to be transported in dangerous conditions. If an innocent driver is injured in the accident, he or she may have trouble determining who is really at fault.
Trucking companies work with their insurance providers to minimize culpability for their drivers, their trucks, and their clients. If you were injured in an accident that involved hazardous materials, you need to speak with an attorney who knows the law, and can hold big trucking companies responsible.
Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Bendinelli Law firm for a free consultation. We can provide you with legal options and crucial resources to help you build your case. Our Denver truck accident attorneys know how to battle the big guys, so let us work for you.