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Truck Hazardous Material Spills

The highways and roads of Washington State, including Seattle, Kirkland, Olympia, and all of Washington state, are filled with large semi and 18-wheeler trucks that transport hazardous materials every day. While the majority of the time these trucks transport hazardous materials without any problems or accidents, there are some instances when accidents occur and the hazardous materials that are being transported spill or come loose, causing serious injuries and even death to people on the road.

It is not overly difficult for a semi-truck to stop suddenly and cause a collision with a car, which can hit a wet line and in turn puncture a pipe that spills gas or other noxious chemicals onto a roadway. If this happens, it also likely that a fire can erupt, which will create even more destruction for those on the road. Given that so often semi-trucks are carrying gas or other kinds of liquids, these liquids can cause an accident in a couple of different ways.

First, the truck could create an accident because it cannot control the liquids. Second, after the accident occurs, there could be a much more serious issue if the accident causes the liquids to come out of the tanker truck and onto the roadway. It is often, however, the exposure to chemicals and other liquids that are very flammable and hazardous that cause people problems and leads to their injuries. If your body comes into contact with these chemicals or substances, you could be permanently injured. There are very specific laws designed to protect people from spills from trucks and exposure to other hazardous materials. There are restrictions on what materials can be transported.

Some materials cannot be transported across some areas because the population is so dense that if there was an accident, tens or hundreds of thousands of people could be affected, such as those living in and around downtown Seattle and Bellevue. There are also restrictions on the time of day the materials can be moved.

Washington State Hazardous Material Truck Laws

While a tanker truck or semi-truck can carry any number of different contents and liquids across state lines, the most common contents and liquids that are transported are flammable gases, such as propane and helium, explosives, battery fluid, gasoline, uranium and other radioactive substances, along with sodium hydroxide.

There are two sources of fault when there is an accident with a truck transporting hazardous materials that is not your fault. It is either the driver’s fault or the truck company’s fault. On some rare occasions, there can be a combination of both.

Common reasons for truck accidents when the driver is at fault:

  • Driver fatigue
  • Driver inexperience
  • Driver inattention
  • Driver distraction

In order for a commercial driver to be on the road in Washington State, they need to have what is called a CDL or a commercial driver’s license. This kind of license is not easy to obtain. A driver must pass a background check and pass several fitness tests as well. In addition, responsible companies should also have internal background and fitness checks with which they screen their applicants. However, as you can imagine, companies do not always do their due diligence in hiring a trucker for their company.

To transport hazardous materials and liquids, there is also more a person has to have than just a CDL. The Department of Transportation makes it mandatory for those truckers who transport hazardous liquids and materials to have their fingerprints taken, make sure they are in fact citizens of the US, and pass other related tests.

While the majority of truck accidents are the result of driver error, there can also be instances when the truck company is at fault. Common reasons for truck accidents when the company is at fault:

  • Tire blowouts
  • Brake problems
  • Vehicle maintenance issues
  • Failing to properly screen or vet drivers

Sometimes truck companies fail to properly maintain their vehicles and they put their drivers in trucks that are not safe, for a variety of reasons, ranging from brakes that are aging and faulty, tires that are bald and need replacing, and other mechanical issues that need addressed and fixed.

If this is the case, the truck company shares responsibility for the accident they caused. There are times, however, the insurance company for the truck company will attempt to conceal internal company documents that show how neglectful the company has been in properly and safely maintaining their trucks, depending on how many they have in their fleet.

Common Hazardous Material Spill Accident Injuries

If you have been in an accident with a truck that has had chemicals that have spilled, chances are you facing serious injuries. These vehicles are usually quite large, larger than normal cars or SUVs most commonly on the road. The most common injuries associated with hazardous material spills are:

  • Thermal burns to the body
  • Chemical burns to the body
  • Being exposed to cancer-inducing chemicals
  • Explosions that can lead to death and loss of limbs
  • Loss of hearing and sight
  • Poisoning
  • Breathing problems from inhaling chemicals

If you have suffered any of these injuries, the likelihood is not good that these injuries will resolve on their own. In most instances, you will have to see a medical professional to help you recover. Aside from primary care doctors, the most common kinds of healthcare providers to treat people who have been in accidents with trucks are osteopaths, physiatrists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and physical therapists.

Any of these healthcare providers can render quality care to you and they likely know the appropriate specialist who can treat you if you have been injured by a truck that has had a chemical spill.

How The Jackman Law Firm can Help

If you have been injured by chemicals that have spilled, then you are likely in one of the more difficult times of your life. You are likely facing phone calls from insurance companies, medical appointments, you may be losing money from work since you are unable to work, and many phone calls from insurance companies. If this is the case, why go through this process alone? The Jackman Law Firm can help you recover:

  • Money for lost wages
  • Money for pain and suffering
  • Money for medical bills
  • Money for lost wages

The Jackman Law Firm can assist you with all of these things. In addition, we can stand between you and the insurance company for the semi-truck. While it is not common, there are also instances when the truck company’s insurance company may allege that you were either partly or completely at fault for the accident. If this unfortunate and untrue allegation is brought against you, then you need an attorney who can help you and we have the resources to do this.

While we attempt to reach an out of court settlement by negotiating with the truck’s insurance company, there is no promise that negations will be successful and we may have to go to court for justice for you.

If you have questions about your truck accident, feel free to call for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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