Every day, tanker trucks haul a variety of cargo across the United States. Commonly tanker trucks transport large quantities of liquid or gas, including oil, water, gasoline, septic tank contents, and chemicals. Light-duty tanker trucks can carry as much as 3,000 gallons of liquid. On the other hand, heavy tanker trucks can carry even higher volumes. There is no doubt that these trucks provide a vital service for many businesses. However, they can also pose unique hazards on the roadways.
Tanker trucks are unique commercial cargo trucks that are specially constructed to transport liquids or gases. Tanker trucks vary in design. Some tanker trucks have a separate truck cab that is attached to a separate trailer or tank. This design allows the tank to haul a wide variety of liquids and gases. Some tanks have a compartmentalized design that allows them to carry multiple substances simultaneously. Other tanks are undivided and can only carry a single substance at a time.
The design of the tanker truck itself has the potential to cause dangers on the roadways.
Many victims assume, following a serious tanker truck accident, that the tanker truck driver bears full liability for the accident. Oftentimes, the truck driver does bear primary responsibility for what happens when they are behind the wheel.
Truck drivers have a duty to safely navigate the road, adhere to all traffic laws, and avoid driving if any danger is suspected. However, in some circumstances, factors contributing to an accident may be out of the driver’s control.
In those cases, other entities may share liability for damages resulting from tanker truck accidents.
The company that employs the driver has responsibilities both to the truck driver and other drivers on the road. If the trucking company violates those responsibilities, it may bear liability for accidents that occur as a result of that violation.
Both truck manufacturers and manufacturers of any truck parts, including tires, signal lights, and windshield wipers, have a duty to provide safe products. They must ensure that the quality of their products will not pose a risk to truck drivers or other drivers they share the road with. Sometimes, however, mechanical failures may contribute to a tanker truck accident that has severe consequences. If the manufacturer produces a part with a known defect, the manufacturer may share liability for any accident caused by those defective parts.
Most commercial trucking companies conduct regular maintenance on their vehicles, including tanker truck companies. Some fleets have in-house mechanics responsible for vehicle repairs and routine maintenance, while others may outsource those tasks.
If a mechanical failure causes an accident after a tanker truck has received maintenance, the mechanic may share liability if:
An experienced truck accident attorney regularly fights for the rights of injured victims to seek the compensation they are entitled to. You should consider consulting with an attorney to get a better idea of who may be responsible for damages resulting from a tanker truck accident.
At the scene of a tanker truck accident, you should exercise extreme caution. If the truck carries hazardous cargo, you may need to distance yourself from the scene of the accident as quickly as possible.
The truck driver knows what he or she is hauling and the dangers associated with the substance. If there is any indication from the driver that the scene is unsafe, you should safely remove yourself from the scene. The driver himself may be injured and unable to communicate. In that case, look for any indication of the contents of the tank on the truck itself. If the truck indicates that the contents are hazardous, react accordingly.
When you sustain serious injuries, you should immediately proceed to the emergency room or an urgent care center. Always prioritize your health and medical care following an accident. Even if you believe you suffered no injuries in the accident, you may have been exposed to hazardous chemicals. You should always seek an evaluation from a medical professional as soon as possible. Merely inhaling some dangerous chemicals can pose a serious risk to your health. Carefully follow any instructions given by your doctor, including monitoring for signs of chemical exposure.
Take pictures of the truck and any signs indicating the contents of its tank, especially if it carries hazardous cargo. You may also want to photograph damage to the vehicles as well as the placement of the vehicles at the scene. If you take photos of the driver’s insurance information and driver’s license, you will have ready access to that information later. It is always important to exchange insurance information because it will make it easier for you to file a claim later. You may also want to collect contact information from any witnesses at the scene of the accident.
Most insurance providers require their customers to notify them of any accident. Your insurance company may help you handle repairs to your vehicle as well as provide you with valuable advice about how you should proceed. You may also need to remove a totaled vehicle from your insurance policy or register a new vehicle after your accident.
Following a tanker truck accident, you may want to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney can offer advantages as you seek compensation after your tanker truck accident. An attorney may help evaluate who caused or contributed to an accident. They may also realistically anticipate the amount of compensation injured victims can expect to receive. Attorneys have experience collecting evidence that may be critical to a personal injury claim. For example, driver logs, information about the cargo, and traffic camera evidence may help establish liability in the accident.
Following your tanker truck accident, the truck driver’s insurance company may get in touch with you and provide a settlement offer. Often, this settlement may fail to reflect the full extent of recovery that you deserve. Compensation for your injuries may include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Discuss the insurance company’s offer with an attorney before signing any agreements.
Many attorneys offer a free consultation that will help give you a better idea of what you should expect throughout the claims process. Oftentimes, the claims process involves several rounds of negotiation before an injured victim receives compensation. Some claims may require mediation or even go to court to reach a settlement. Prepare ahead of time to negotiate.
Tanker trucks can cause severe injuries that can leave victims with lifelong complications. By consulting a truck accident attorney, injured victims can get a better idea of exactly what compensation they deserve.
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