How Hazardous Material Truck Accidents are Different from Other Truck Wrecks

Accidents involving large commercial trucks have the potential to be much more severe than accidents involving only traditional passenger vehicles. The reality is that commercial trucks can weigh tens of thousands of pounds and are much larger than other vehicles on the roadway. When these vehicles are involved in a crash, individuals often sustain severe injuries. However, commercial trucks that transport hazardous materials bring an added element of danger in the event an accident occurs. Personal injury claims involving hazardous material trucks must be handled slightly differently than other crashes involving commercial trucks.

What Constitutes “Hazardous Material?”

When looking at definitions available from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), we can see that “hazardous materials” means substances or materials that are capable of posing an unreasonable risk to safety, health, and property when transported. There are various types of materials included in these definitions, including wastes, temperature elevated materials, marine pollutants, and other hazardous materials designated under federal regulations.

There are nine classes of hazardous materials concerning truck accident regulations, including the following:

  • Class I: explosives
  • Class 2: gases
  • Class 3: flammable liquid
  • Class 4: flammable solids
  • Class 5: oxidizing substances and peroxides
  • Class 6: poisonous and infectious substances
  • Class 7: radioactive material
  • Class 8: corrosives
  • Class 9: miscellaneous dangerous goods

Accidents involving these types of materials add an extra element of danger to a commercial truck accident. Not only do those involved have to deal with the impact of the collision and the traumatic injuries caused by the impact, but they will have the added element of exposure to hazardous chemicals or elements that could lead to significant injuries or illnesses.

An unfortunate reality of these incidents is that it can take some time for first responders to get to victims. First responders have to ensure their safety before they can help others. A hazardous material commercial truck crash often means that responders cannot get to victims for a significant amount of time, thereby delaying any possible medical care.

Trucking Company Responsibilities

Trucking companies that regularly transport hazardous materials have responsibilities that go above and beyond typical commercial trucking company responsibilities. They must have proper information regarding the hazardous materials they transport, and the materials must be appropriately packaged according to federal regulatory guidelines.

Additionally, the motor carrier involved in transporting these materials must ensure that their employees obtain specific training related to transporting hazardous materials. Stringent rules apply for the training and certification of employees in these situations.

Additional Insurance Requirements

Federal regulations also require that trucking companies carry liability insurance that rises well above traditional commercial trucking accident insurance requirements. The liability minimums are increased to between $1 million to $5 million dollars. The exact dollar amount of insurance coverage required in these situations depends upon the carrier as well as the type of material being transported.

Determining Liability for a Hazardous Materials Truck Crash

A skilled truck accident attorney in Oregon will be able to handle the entire investigation process. An attorney can use their resources to obtain all evidence needed to prove liability, including the following:

  • Any photo or video surveillance of the incident
  • The truck’s electronic control module (ECM)
  • The truck driver’s electronic logging device (ELD)
  • Records of the safety history of the company involved
  • Proof of compliance with federal regulations concerning hazardous materials
  • The police and accident reports
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Mobile device data

In these cases, a truck accident attorney in Portland will work closely with all parties involved in an effort to ensure that a fair and thorough investigation is completed.