Orange County Tanker-Truck Accident Lawyers
The Dangers of Hazardous Material
Whether a tanker truck is transporting oil, gasoline, toxic chemicals, or even water, these vehicles should be operated with extreme care. All drivers and trucking companies must have proper federal certifications to ensure they can safely transport the material, because, unfortunately, the results of a tanker-truck accident are always catastrophic. The people involved can suffer severe trauma, extensive burns, and even become sick from breathing in toxic chemicals.
If you or someone you love was injured in a tanker-truck accident, you may need extensive medical treatment to recover from such a traumatic event. That will require paying costly medical bills, covering weeks to months of lost wages, and paying out additional expenses. Dealing with this on your own can be almost impossible, but if a negligent truck driver or company caused your injuries, you may be able to recover compensation in a personal injury claim.
At Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie, our Orange County tanker-truck accident attorneys have spent more than 40 years representing accident victims throughout Southern California. We can advocate for you in settlement negotiations and a jury trial, if necessary. To get started on your case, call our office at (949) 752-7474 to schedule a free case evaluation.
The Serious Consequences of a Spill
Any trucking accident can be devastating, but tanker trucks come with the added danger of toxic chemicals and flammable liquid spilling out into the streets. Flammable liquids like oil and gasoline can cause extensive fire damage, burns, and explosions if they come in contact with an ignition source. In addition, ethanol, which has become an everyday biofuel alternative, is also flammable, and even the fumes can cause skin irritation and internal organ damage.
Chemicals such as chlorine and pesticides can also be released into the air when a tanker truck breaks open. Even if a driver is not struck during a tanker crash, he may suffer serious health issues if he was trapped on the road and inhaled toxic fumes.
The dangers of transporting both flammable and toxic materials led the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to make strict rules and regulations for tanker trucks. Among these is the requirement for cargo tanker trucks to receive endorsements from the FMCSA and abide by certain weight restrictions. These laws are designed to prevent catastrophic accidents, such as chemical spills, explosions, and rollovers. Unfortunately, even if a trucking company is fully certified to transport hazardous materials, a trucker could still be negligent behind the wheel.
What Causes Tanker Truck Accidents?
Given the dangers of transporting hazardous materials, only experienced and well-trained drivers should handle these vehicles. The weight and length of tanker trucks add additional risks. While fully loaded semi-trucks already require a focused driver at the wheel, tanker trucks are more prone to becoming unbalanced, especially if they are transporting liquid. If the tank is underloaded, the liquid may slosh around when the truck makes sharp turns or swerves between lanes. This can cause the weight of the truck to shift and ultimately result in a rollover accident.
Drivers should be fully prepared to handle the complexities of operating these vehicles safely. This means managing the tanker’s speed at turns, understanding how much time they need to come to a full stop when fully loaded, inspecting the brakes, tires, and steering systems, and responding accordingly to unsafe roads. If a driver loses control of the vehicle, they may be found liable for causing a spill. However, there are other parties who can also be held liable for a tanker-truck accident.
Holding All Negligent Parties Accountable
Several parties are involved in the transportation of hazardous materials. There is, of course, the driver who must transport the materials, but there are also loading crews that work for gas and chemical companies that are responsible for making sure the tank is properly loaded and secure. In addition, the trucking company that oversees the route is responsible for hiring competent drivers, scheduling maintenance on vehicles, and applying for certifications. If any one of these parties acted negligently and caused a tanker spill, they could be found liable for the damage other drivers and pedestrians suffered in the crash.
After a tanker spill that injures you, you could file a claim against several individuals or groups, including the:
- Truck Driver: Drivers are responsible for safely operating their vehicles and so they are the usual culprit when a tanker truck is involved in a collision. Whether due to intoxication, distraction, or inexperience, a driver who is negligent should be held accountable in a truck accident claim.
- Trucking Company: Trucking companies can share blame with their drivers, as they are responsible for overseeing all shipping operations. The company may have hired an inexperienced driver, failed to schedule routine maintenance on the tanker truck, or pushed their drivers to break the hours of service (HOS), causing them to become fatigued and fall asleep at the wheel.
- Gas or Chemical Company: Tanker trucks are typically filled at refineries, factories, and chemical plants that have their own procedures and crews for loading vehicles. If this crew failed to properly secure the hazardous materials within the tank or underloaded the tank, they may be found liable for a spill.
- Maintenance Crew: Tankers require regular maintenance to operate safely, which means trucking companies should schedule repairs with trained and competent mechanics. However, if the mechanic failed to repair an obvious defect or damaged the vehicle in another way, they could be found liable if that error contributed to the tanker-truck accident.
- Manufacturers: In some cases, everyone involved in the transportation of a hazardous material acted responsibly and followed all regulations. But who then caused the accident? Well, if the tanker had a faulty part or a defective design, the manufacturer may be held responsible if the driver, for that reason, lost control of the vehicle. This can include faulty brake systems, weak suspensions, or defective hitches. In this situation, you may be able to file a claim against the part’s or truck’s manufacturer.
Why You Should Contact Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie
Identifying who caused your injuries is only one step in filing a truck accident claim. You will need to collect evidence of wrongdoing, calculate the overall costs of your injuries, and negotiate with insurance companies. If you are still healing from your injuries or grieving for a loved one who died in the accident, then this process can be incredibly difficult. That is why you should not hesitate to let an experienced and knowledgeable Orange County truck accident attorney handle your case.
At Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie, we have over four decades of experience representing accident victims. We understand how to professionally handle a truck accident investigation. Our legal team can handle every aspect of your case so you can focus on recovering from your trauma. Do not hesitate to contact us at (949) 752-7474 to discuss all of your legal options after a tanker-truck accident.
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