Tanker Truck Accident Lawyers
Collisions involving tanker trucks are some of the most cataclysmic accidents on U.S. roads. Tanker trucks are large, heavy vehicles that are charged with transporting dangerous and toxic materials. While not all tankers carry hazardous contents, many do, and just one distracted moment, one negligent action, is enough to cause a chain reaction of events that ends in disaster. Injuries from these types of crashes are often severe in nature and, in some cases, fatal.
Recovery after being involved in a tanker truck collision is often a long and difficult process. Healing from traumatic injuries can take months, even years, and some injuries result in life-long complications. The medical costs associated with these types of injuries can be significant. If you or someone close to you has been injured in a tanker truck accident, talk to an experienced truck accident attorney before accepting any monetary offer.
At Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers, we want to make sure victims get the maximum amount of compensation that they are due, not a meager settlement that won’t even cover the cost of tomorrow’s medical appointment. For more information on what your case may be worth and how the team at Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation, call us at (973) 364-8300. The consultation is free, and we will take the time to answer your questions and lay out all your legal options.
Most Common Causes of Tanker Truck Accidents
There is no denying that the number one cause of serious accidents is due to driver error. Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration finds that at least 87 percent of large truck accidents were caused by some form of driver error. Only 10 percent of crashes were due to vehicle issues such as mechanical defects or defective parts. Plus, while the weather takes the brunt of the blame for accidents, it is only accountable for 3 percent of large truck accidents, according to the study.
The single most important way to stop large-scale truck accidents is for drivers to be more attentive to the road. It is their job. Long hours, lonely stretches of road, and monotonous views can make it difficult to stay focused, but when a tanker truck is carrying hazardous materials from one location to another, there can be no room for reckless behavior or negligence. Negligence can cost someone their life.
While distracted driving still tops the list as one of the prevalent causes of serious accidents, several other factors contribute to significant accidents. These causes include:
- Drunk driving
- Driver fatigue
- Reckless lane changes
- Following too closely
- Equipment failure
- Defective parts
- Inclement weather conditions
What Types of Substances do Tanker Trucks Transport?
Tanker trucks are tasked with transporting all manner of substances from the most benign to the most toxic. One truck may be carrying milk, while another is transporting radioactive material or industrial chemicals.
Tankers aren’t transparent, and most drivers are unaware of what types of substances a tanker may be carrying. While trucks are mandated to have HazMat identification placards posted, most average drivers will not recognize the meaning of these identifying markers. These placards list hazardous class numbers and divisions, United Nations or North American cargo numbers, compatibility letters, and color-coding.
What drivers should be made aware of is that often the cargo of these types of tanker vehicles is extremely toxic, corrosive, or flammable. Some of the most dangerous substances that tanker trucks are tasked with transporting across the country include:
- Diesel fuel
- Petroleum products
- Industrial chemicals
- Radioactive material
- Natural gases
- Non-potable water
- Agricultural waste
Injuries from Tanker Truck Accidents
Tanker trucks, like all large commercial vehicles, are massive in both size and weight. The damage that these behemoths can do in a “normal” accident can be catastrophic. Just colliding with another car can produce enough force to cause major injuries to the occupants of the smaller vehicle. However, the added element of the potentially dangerous tanker cargo makes tanker truck accidents especially devastating.
Some tanker trucks are prone to fires and serious explosions. Typically, tankers transporting gasoline or diesel fuel are most at risk. Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration suggests that flammable liquids, such as gas, accounted for 54 percent of the hazardous material releases in fatal crashes and 49 percent of hazardous material releases in injury crashes in 2018. However, many types of chemicals and gases are also extremely flammable. Accidents are dangerous scenes where just one spark from a piece of dragging metal or another source could ignite the entire scene. There are even some chemicals that can react to heat or elements found in the air, causing fires and explosions. Tanker truck fires can burn extremely hot and be notoriously difficult to put out.
Chemical spills and leaks can also cause major injuries. Spills and leaks can make the roadway treacherous and slippery, causing secondary accidents as unsuspecting motorists happen upon the scene. Depending on the contents, these types of leaks can also cause painful injuries to those directly involved in the accident. Chemical burns can lead to disfigurement, tissue damage, and infection, sometimes even resulting in the loss of a limb.
The other consideration in the event of a chemical leak or spill is the short- and long-term damage done to internal organs. Not only can leaks result in physical contact with the skin, but the vapors and fumes from the chemicals or hazardous material can cause devastating injuries to the throat and lungs. Sometimes these fumes can be odorless, so victims may not even be aware that they are breathing in dangerous materials. Vapors may also impact the eyes and can cause burning, stinging, and even blindness.
Some of the injuries that can be sustained by victims in a serious collision with a tanker truck may include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Head, neck, and spinal injuries
- Broken bones
- Crushed bones
- Internal injuries
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Chemical exposure
- Radioactive exposure
- Chemical burns
- Physical burns
- Wrongful death
Injuries in tanker truck accidents tend to be severe and sometimes catastrophic, leading to long-lasting health complications. These injuries may be disfiguring and life-altering, changing the way a person fundamentally lives their life and significantly shifting their basic quality of life. That’s in addition to the astronomical medical bills that victims with significant injuries will face, not just today but far down the road as they continue to cope with their injuries.
Getting Compensation After a Tanker Truck Accident
Compensation after tanker truck accidents can get complicated. Trucking companies are for-profit entities that want to keep those profits in-house. However, because of the catastrophic nature of tanker truck accidents, settlements can reach millions. Therefore trucking companies employ teams of insurers and attorneys that work on their behalf, not yours. The amount of compensation a victim may be entitled to following a serious accident can vary depending on the circumstances of the accident. Typically, compensation may cover:
- Current medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
Securing your own attorney is the best way to recover the maximum amount of compensation. Insurers may try to low-ball a victim or take advantage of the fact that they need money right away because of the traumatic nature of their injuries and the money required to cover those medical needs.
Having an attorney in your corner is also the best way to leverage your negotiation power with insurers. If a company fails to make an adequate and fair offer or is unwilling to negotiate, a lawyer will also have the ability to prepare a case for court.
Keep in mind that in some circumstances, an attorney may be valuable because more than one entity may be to blame for the accident. There are cases where a third-party may also be responsible for an accident. This can be true if a mechanical defect or defective part played a role in causing an accident. The manufacturer of that part may also be liable for some of the damages. Companies responsible for improperly loading tankers or not properly sealing values after loading or unloading may also be to blame. An attorney can help investigate the cause of an accident from every and all angles, pinpointing the parties that were responsible and holding them accountable.
Contact an Experienced Tanker Truck Accident Attorney
Dealing with the aftermath of a tanker truck accident can be overwhelming. Severe injuries may make you feel vulnerable physically and financially. Before you accept any offer from the trucking company or their insurer, talk to an experienced New Jersey tanker truck attorney first. The other side will want you to sign your legal rights away for pennies. Significant injuries can mean a lifetime of medical expenses. Make sure you are getting the maximum compensation you are entitled to by talking to an attorney now.
If you or someone close to you has been significantly impacted by a tanker truck collision, talk to the legal team at Brach Eichler Trial Lawyers about your options for recovering compensation. We are ready and waiting to take your call and set you up with a free consultation. Reach out by dialing (973) 364-8300, and let’s talk about how we can work together to get you the money you deserve.