Tanker truck accidents cause injuries, deaths, and devastation on the roadways in your community. Unfortunately, many people find that filing and navigating a tanker truck accident claim is overwhelming. If a tanker truck accident injures you or a loved one, you will need guidance throughout your case. Hiring a tanker truck accident lawyer can help you avoid the confusion and challenges you will face when seeking compensation for your injuries.
What Is a Tanker Truck?
Every day you encounter large trucks on the roads and interstates in your city: tractor-trailers, semis, and other large vehicles transport goods and materials on long-distance trips across the country. A tanker truck is a large commercial vehicle designed to haul liquids in a tank. A tanker truck may carry chemicals, gas, or beverages like milk.
Tanker trucks are long and heavy. They can sometimes haul two or more tanks at a time. Tanker trucks cause many similar accidents to other large trucks and tractor-trailers. However, the cargo these transports carry increases the public’s risk of death and injury when accidents occur.
Are Tanker Trucks Dangerous?
It is hard to drive near a fuel tanker on the interstate and not feel apprehensive. The massive vehicle’s presence, coupled with the knowledge that the tankers often carry dangerous products, causes concern amongst other motorists.
The sheer size and force of such a large truck colliding with another vehicle are likely to cause devastation, serious injuries, and fatalities for anyone involved in the accident. A tanker truck accident can also damage other vehicles nearby if the tanker’s contents spill in the collision. Here are some circumstances that make tanker trucks even more deadly:
Tanker truck drivers spend a considerable portion of their lives on the road. They have demanding, high-stress jobs requiring long hours and little rest. Sometimes, their stress and exhaustion cause them to make unsafe driving decisions that have deadly consequences for others sharing the roadways.
Carrying Harmful Materials
Tanker trucks can carry all types of products. Some, such as milk, oats, and other grains, are relatively harmless. However, they can also haul toxic chemicals and poisonous gases, including gasoline, radioactive materials, acid, and other corrosive materials.
When an accident happens, the tanker truck itself is not the only danger. The contents in the tank may wreak even more havoc. What happens to the tank’s contents can cause further harm to the victims of a crash or create a dangerous situation that puts more people in harm’s way. If hazardous materials spill onto the roadways, victims can suffer injury or sickness depending on the substance.
Victims of a crash, bystanders, police officers, rescue personnel, and anyone near the scene of an accident and its aftermath can be in danger until the roadway and tanker get cleaned up.
High Risk of Explosion
Tanker trucks often transport hazardous chemicals that are not only dangerous to touch or inhale but that are also highly flammable; it’s easy to imagine how a fire can ignite following a crash with a tanker truck.
Sparks caused by the tanker scraping across the roadway in a collision can cause a fire, igniting the chemicals onboard. The explosions and fires that often follow tanker truck crashes are dangerous to everyone near the scene. When a tanker truck explodes, the accident can instantly become a mass casualty event.
Why Do Most Tanker Truck Accidents Happen?
Negligent driving causes many tanker truck accidents; often, the tanker truck driver is at fault. The fact that tanker trucks carry hazardous materials makes their very presence a danger. Coupling the inherent risk of driving these large trucks with potentially negligent driving behaviors is a recipe for disaster that causes fatalities each year.
Over 4,000 people die in accidents with large trucks on the roadways yearly. Of these deaths, over 87 percent are passenger vehicle occupants and other bystanders.
Other common causes of tanker truck accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Driver fatigue
- Driving under the influence
- Speeding or reckless driving
- Bad weather
- Maintenance failures
- Improper cargo loading
- Defective tanker truck equipment or parts
What Happens if a Tanker Truck Explodes?
Watching a tanker truck accident is terrifying. Footage of prior tanker truck accidents shows just how dangerous a tanker truck collision can be to traffic in the vicinity of a truck.
Tanker trucks do not always explode in collisions. The heavy and specialized trucks have many safeguards built in to prevent explosions. However, when a high-speed accident occurs and causes a rollover or sends a tanker truck crashing into a concrete barrier and other vehicles, the likelihood of an explosion significantly increases.
Sometimes, a tanker truck explodes or catches fire almost instantaneously in an accident, giving the crash victims and those in the immediate vicinity little time to flee the scene. In other situations, the tanker truck may not immediately catch fire.
Rather, it might catch flame several minutes or even hours after the impact. Often, traffic piles up behind an accident involving a tanker. The traffic congestion creates a greater danger to everyone near the scene. If the tanker explodes after traffic has built up, the explosion can damage the vehicles trapped in traffic nearby.
Who Can Be Liable to Victims of a Tanker Truck Accident?
Liability for a tanker truck accident can include:
- The tanker truck driver
- The tanker truck driver’s employer
- The owner of the tanker truck
- The company shipping the load
- The manufacturer of the tanker truck
Disastrous tanker truck accidents can be very costly to victims. For victims to get the compensation they deserve, it is critical to discover who caused the negligent tanker truck accident. In many instances, when the truck driver is at fault, they are personally liable for the damage they cause. However, a truck driver might not have the resources to pay for extensive damages after a tanker truck accident unless they have insurance.
If this is the case, insurance may cover a substantial portion of your losses. Other parties, like the owner of the tanker truck or a third party to the accident, may also be liable depending on the situation.
What Compensation Can You Fight for If You Are in a Tanker Truck Accident?
If a tanker truck injured you, you might have sustained significant and expensive losses. Your injuries might keep you out of work, your healthcare may be costly, or you might face permanent disabilities. When you are in this situation because another party acted negligently, you are likely eligible for compensation under the law.
Damages for injuries in a tanker truck accident can include:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Future losses and costs for medical care and loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Damage to your vehicle and other property
Do You Have Any Right to Compensation If Your Loved One Dies in an Accident with a Tanker Truck?
Tragically, many people involved in tanker truck accidents do not survive. Some victims die at the crash scene, while others die from injuries days and weeks after the accident. If your family member or loved one died in a tanker truck accident, you may be eligible for compensation through a wrongful death claim. In a wrongful death insurance claim, the victim’s relatives can fight for justice by seeking compensation for the victim’s death.
Damages in a wrongful death case due to a tanker truck accident can include:
- The funeral and burial expenses for the victim
- The loss of companionship and support from the loved one to the family
- The loss of financial contribution from the victim to the family
- Pain and suffering of the family members for the sudden and tragic loss
- Potential inheritance, gifts, or other benefits from the deceased to the family
Should You Get a Lawyer for a Tanker Truck Accident Case?
If you are in a tanker truck accident, the question you should be pondering is not if a lawyer is necessary, but how soon you need to hire one. The extent of damage in tanker truck accidents is often great, and it is not uncommon for multiple victims to seek compensation when the truck driver is to blame for the accident. Tanker truck accident claims can be incredibly complex because one or many parties may be liable.
After a tanker truck accident, your priority is to get the compensation you deserve for your losses following the crash. To do so, you must protect your legal rights and ensure your claim goes through the proper channels to either negotiate a settlement or take your case to court. A lawyer who has the experience and knowledge to handle your claim effectively will file your claim correctly with the appropriate parties.
A truck accident attorney understands the challenges of these cases and how many parties might be a part of a case. It can be easy for you to get lost in the shuffle in accidents with multiple victims and heavy damage to property and life. Your lawyer will not let your losses go unnoticed and will fight on your behalf to seek the compensation you deserve.