In 2013, there was one incident in Georgia that led to hazardous cargo injuries requiring hospitalization, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). This occurred during the hazardous material (HAZMAT) loading phase and also caused one fatality. Several other incidents led to property damage and injuries that did not require hospitalization.
Georgia saw one other incident involving HAZMAT in 2013 that killed three people. A vehicle did not stop at a stop sign and struck a tractor-trailer carrying gasoline, according to the PHMSA report.
A fire started on impact and the gasoline the truck was carrying leaked, engulfing the tractor-trailer and the other vehicle in flames. The three occupants of other vehicle died in the accident, though the report does not indicate whether they died from impact or the resultant fire and explosion.
Truck accidents are already extremely dangerous. Add hazardous truck cargo to the mix, and the risks of catastrophic and fatal injuries multiply.
Types of Hazardous Cargo That May Cause Injuries
Trucks can carry materials that are highly flammable, corrosive, reactive, and/or toxic. Types of HAZMAT materials include the following.
- compressed gases.
- flammable liquids and solids.
- oxidizers and organic peroxides.
- toxic materials.
- radioactive materials.
- and, corrosive materials.
The types of hazardous cargo injuries that might result can be dependent on the type of material released. If explosive or flammable materials are involved, it can lead to burn injuries, for example.
Parties Responsible for Hazardous Truck Cargo Safety
The federal government provides specific HAZMAT regulations and protocols that trucking companies must follow. A company or truck driver’s failure to abide by the rules could result in fines and other penalties. Plus, if the negligence causes hazardous cargo injuries, the company can be liable for the damages.
There are numerous parties that may be responsible for damages on a truck accident claim. For instance, the shipping company may be liable if it didn’t load the cargo properly. The truck accident company can be liable if it didn’t properly maintain the vehicle or ensure drivers were adequately qualified.
Plus, the company can be liable for the truck driver’s mistakes. It’s the truck driver’s responsibility to ensure that the cargo is secure before hitting the road, as well as periodically while on the trip. A parts manufacturer may be responsible if the part or piece of equipment’s defect caused the accident.
Rules By Which Truck Drivers Must Abide
Truck drivers must abide by rules enforced by the federal government. When a commercial truck is involved in a crash, there will usually be an investigation to determine fault and whether or not the driver was in violation of any protocols.
A few pertinent regulations that might come into play in a HAZMAT truck accident investigation are below.
- § 397.69 – HAZMAT trucks are prohibited from driving on certain roads, as designed by the states, because of a public safety threat.
- § 397.3(a)(1) – truck drivers cannot park a HAZMAT truck within five feet of a public roadway.
- and, § 397.5(a) – trucks carrying certain classes of hazardous materials must be monitored at all times. That is, the driver must be alert so he or she can monitor the materials.
This is just sampling of HAZMAT truck regulations. When a victim files a claim against a truck company after an accident, the victim’s lawyer will conduct an investigation, collect evidence, and comb through federal laws to determine whether fault or negligence exists.
Free Consultation with a Truck Accident Attorney in Atlanta, GA
If you or a loved one suffered serious hazardous cargo injuries in Atlanta, speak to an attorney about your legal options. You might be able to file a claim to collect compensation for damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
For legal counsel in the Atlanta area, call Jason R. Schultz to set up a free consultation. Contact our firm today at 404-474-0804.