Each day thousands of large trucks take the roads to transport materials from location to the next, and sometimes those materials are hazardous. Hazardous material, also known as HAZMAT, is defined as any types of material that are dangerous to people, animals, the environment, and property.
The transportation of such cargo is dangerous due in part to the fact that it is often transported in large semi-trailers that could cause accidents and may also spill their shipments.
In Alabama more than 123,000 motor vehicle crashes were reported in 2009 and the Center for Advanced Public Safety at the University of Alabama indicated that in 2011 nearly 7,000 trucks were involved in a crash.
The U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration provides statistics on HAZMAT transportation and they recorded more than 3,700 incidents involving HAZMAT transportation occurred while the materials were in-transit, 9 of which were fatal in 2012. In Alabama more than 1,600 incidents have occurred since 2004.
Despite being heavily regulated, transporting HAZMAT recklessly can affect many people – especially unsuspecting drivers that may be involved in an accident with a truck or other type of commercial vehicle that is carrying this type of cargo.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a HAZMAT accident caused by a negligent driver, the injured may be entitled to compensation for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and more.
For a no-obligation evaluation of your traffic incident fill out the Free Case Review form to your right – it’s 100% free and strictly confidential.
Hazardous Material Classifications
As there are many different types of materials that may be transported on our roads, hazardous material in particular is classified under a variety of different classifications.
These “classes” were designed and developed with the assistance of IATA (Int’l Air Transport Association) and the IMO (Int’l Maritime Organization), to help cargo handlers understand how to safely move and handle each specific type of hazardous material.
Under the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) guidelines, the 9 different classifications include:
- Poisonous/Toxic or Infectious Substances
- Flammable Solids
- Flammable Liquids
- And Miscellaneous
Warning signage is placed on semi-trailers and other large trucks carrying these materials. The United Nations also enabled a coding system to classify the materials into different numbers, called UN numbers, which assist police officers, fire fighters, and other emergency personnel organize the type of clean-up process that should be undertaken.
HAZMAT Accident Causes
Large trucks may be involved in many different types of auto accidents, but those that are 18-wheelers are more likely to be involved in jackknife collisions and underride accidents. Most HAZMAT is transported in these types of trucks and the risk of being involved in a deadly accident is greater depending on the material being transported.
There are several causes of hazardous material transportation accidents including (but not limited to):
Some large truck accidents occur when the a broken down truck pulls over but fails to practice the proper emergency procedures such as using flare lights, this is especially dangerous at nighttime and before dawn breaks.
HAZMAT spills may occur during an accident or simply during transport. The PHMSA reported that 146 transportation incidents occurred in 2012 due to overfilling.
Other common causes of HAZMAT spills include:
- Forklift Accidents
- Improper Cargo Loading
- Cargo Shift
- Unmaintained Equipment such as valves
- Impact with Sharp Objects (nails, screw, etc.)
Rollover accident incidents may also cause material to spill as can a side-impact collision. It is important for all drivers to have the correct signage and paperwork about the material they are transporting in order to speed up the clean-up process. PHMSA requires that drivers and transport companies notify the U.S Department of Transportation about serious HAZMAT spillage incidents.
Contact our Mobile Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been involved in a hazardous material transportation accident, the victim may be entitled to compensation for their losses. At Citrin Law Firm we have more than 25 years of combined legal experience and are dedicated in standing up for the injured.
- Pine Grove
…and many more local towns and cities. For a free evaluation of your case contact us at 1-251-888-8888 and one of our dedicated staff members will connect you with one of our lawyers best suited in handling your claim.
You may also contact us online by simply filling out the Free Case Review form at the top right hand corner of this page – it’s 100% free and completely confidential.