The trucking industry is essential to the economy of the United States and the world. Commercial drivers must adhere to especially high standards of professional care. This is particularly true of drivers responsible for transporting toxic or hazardous substances. Unfortunately, accidents involving these vehicles can and do happen. When they do, the drivers involved can suffer a wide range of damages, including physical injuries and illness from toxic exposure.
When you or a loved one experience an accident like this, your damages could be severe. You may not know the best legal options available to you. An experienced Sacramento truck accident attorney can provide professional insights into your case to determine your best option for legal recourse and recovery.
What Hazardous Materials Could Trucks Spill?
Tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks are used to transport an incredible variety of goods and materials across the country. Some of the hazardous materials and substances shipped via commercial truck in the US include:
- Explosive substances.
- Gases, such as natural gas used for fuel.
- Other flammable and combustible liquids used for industrial and manufacturing purposes.
- Oxidizer and organic peroxide.
- Radioactive substances.
- Corrosive substances.
- Toxic substances.
- Poisonous substances.
When a truck carrying any of these substances is involved in an accident, the hazardous materials carried in the trailer will spill out and potentially explode. The presence of any hazardous substances in a tractor-trailer accident can significantly increase the damages resulting from the incident.
Depending on what type of substance spills from such an accident, the incident could effectively destroy the land in the area and force evacuations from nearby homes and businesses. When gases and other pollutants escape containment in a commercial truck, they can travel easily through the air, making nearby people sick, harming wildlife, and damaging other resources. When trucks carrying explosive materials experience accidents, the chance of fatalities in the accident increases sharply.
Determining Liability for a Hazardous Truck Accident
One of the most challenging issues facing hazardous spill accident victims is determining liability for these accidents. In a truck accident claim, the legal concept of vicarious liability comes into play when a trucking company or other employer bears responsibility for the actions of their driver. Some trucking accident cases reveal a truck driver solely to blame for the resulting damages while others implicate their employers as well. One of the best steps you can take to protect yourself after such an accident is to secure representation from a Sacramento truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Your attorney will analyze the accident’s circumstances and evaluate the physical evidence available from all parties involved. This helps to determine liability for the accident. California adheres to a pure comparative negligence statute, meaning a plaintiff found partially at fault for claimed damages may still recover damages even if they are 99% to blame. Whatever fault percentage the plaintiff receives, the same percentage is deducted from their case award.
This rule can also apply when multiple defendants share liability for a hazardous truck accident. For example, perhaps the truck driver was speeding, but their employer neglected to verify their experience level and credentials before assigning them a hazardous substance shipping route. In this situation, it may be up to a judge to decide which percentage of fault for the plaintiff’s damages falls to which defendant.
Potential Recovery from a Hazardous Truck Accident Claim
Any truck accident can cause significant damages, including severe or even fatal injuries and expensive property damage. When a truck accident involves any kind of hazardous cargo, the damages increase dramatically. One of the most commonly claimed damages in truck accident claims is medical expense coverage for a victim’s immediate and future medical expenses resulting from the accident. They may have physical injuries that require weeks or months to heal, but it is also possible they sustained burns, chemical exposure, or other hazards due to the substance present in the accident.
Personal injury damages often snowball into one another. For example, a plaintiff’s medical expenses are compounded by their lost income when their injuries force them to stay home and recover. This, in turn, leads to unpaid bills and accumulation of debt, all well outside the victim’s control. It’s essential to take swift action after experiencing a hazardous truck accident for the best chance of securing the compensation you need.
If you have experienced any type of hazardous truck accident, call our firm. The team at the Kreeger Law Firm in Sacramento, CA provides compassionate and responsive legal counsel for our clients during challenging times. Contact us today to schedule your case review with an experienced Sacramento truck accident attorney.