Contact Our Kansas City Truck Accident Lawyers If You Were Injured in a Hazardous Materials Accident

hazmat-truck-on-highwayWhile trucks are crucial in moving goods across the region, they pose potential dangers, especially when carrying hazardous materials. Our experienced Kansas City truck accident attorneys can provide essential assistance if you are injured in a hazardous materials truck accident so you can understand your rights and get the compensation you deserve.

Types of Truck Accidents Involving Hazardous Materials

Truck accidents involving hazardous materials (hazmat) can take various forms, each with unique risks and consequences. Among the most common types of truck accidents involving hazardous materials are:

Spills and Leaks

There are many immediate dangers of chemical spills or leaks, including toxic fumes, fires, and explosions, endangering not only the truck occupants but also nearby residents and other drivers in the vicinity of the spill. Additionally, chemical spills or leaks can lead to environmental damage, including soil and water contamination.

Collisions and Rollovers

Trucks carrying hazardous materials are often heavy and difficult to maneuver, making them prone to collisions and rollovers. Collisions with other vehicles can result in severe injuries to drivers and passengers. Rollovers can lead to the release of hazardous materials, escalating the danger of the accident.

Fires and Explosions

Hazardous materials, especially flammable or combustible substances, can lead to fires and explosions in the event of an accident. These incidents can cause significant damage to property, harm to bystanders, and severe burns to those in the vicinity.

Types of Hazardous Materials Carried by Trucks

Trucks transporting hazardous materials can carry a wide range of substances, each presenting distinct risks when an accident occurs. Some common types of hazardous materials carried by trucks include:

  • Flammable liquids. These include substances like gasoline, diesel fuel, and alcohol. Accidents involving flammable liquids can result in fires and explosions, posing an immediate danger to all involved.
  • Corrosive materials. Substances like acids and alkalis fall into this category. Accidents involving corrosive materials can lead to severe chemical burns and property damage.
  • Toxic gases. Examples of toxic gases include chlorine and ammonia. Inhalation of toxic gases can cause respiratory problems, poisoning, and even fatalities.
  • Radioactive materials. Radioactive materials can result in long-term health issues and environmental contamination. Accidents involving these materials require specialized cleanup procedures.

Types of Injuries Caused by Hazmat Accidents

Accidents involving hazardous materials can result in a wide range of injuries, some of which can be life-threatening or have long-term consequences. Injuries from these types of accidents may include:

  • Burns. Burns from fires, explosions, or contact with hazardous materials can cause severe pain and disfigurement.
  • Respiratory problems. Inhaling toxic fumes or gases can lead to respiratory distress, chemical pneumonia, and other lung issues.
  • Chemical exposure. Direct contact with hazardous materials can cause chemical burns, skin irritation, and eye injuries.
  • Trauma. Collisions and rollovers can result in traumatic injuries such as fractures, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
  • Long-term health effects. Exposure to certain hazardous materials can lead to long-term health issues, including cancer and organ damage.

What to Do After a Hazardous Materials Truck Accident

In the aftermath of a hazardous materials truck accident, taking immediate and appropriate actions to mitigate the risks and protect your rights is crucial. The following are some essential steps to follow:

  • Prioritize safety. Ensure your safety and the safety of others by moving away from the accident scene if possible. If hazardous materials are involved, seek higher ground to avoid toxic fumes and contact with spilled substances.
  • Call for help. Dial 911 to report the accident and request emergency assistance. Inform the authorities about the presence of hazardous materials and any injuries. A police report will be created to describe the accident.
  • Follow instructions. Follow the instructions of emergency responders and law enforcement officers. Evacuate the area if instructed to do so.
  • Seek medical attention. Even if you do not exhibit immediate symptoms, seek medical evaluation to assess potential chemical exposure. It is essential to document all injuries and medical treatment received.
  • Preserve evidence. If safe, gather information and evidence related to the accident, such as photographs, witness statements, and information about the truck and its driver.
  • Contact a lawyer.  Consult with a lawyer who is experienced in hazardous material truck accidents. An experienced Kansas City truck accident attorney can help you navigate the legal complexities to protect your rights and possible compensation.

How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help

Hazmat truck accidents are among the most complex and potentially dangerous types of accidents on the road. These accidents pose immediate risks to those involved and raise intricate legal issues due to the presence of hazardous materials and the need to adhere to strict environmental regulations. A skilled Kansas City truck accident lawyer with expertise in hazmat accidents can provide invaluable assistance in various critical areas, including:

  • Comprehensive investigation. Hazmat truck accidents demand a meticulous and specialized investigation. A lawyer well-versed in these cases can lead a thorough examination of the accident scene. This includes collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing the specific hazards posed by the materials involved. Establishing liability is particularly challenging in hazmat accidents, and an experienced attorney can navigate this complexity effectively.
  • Insurance claims handling. The aftermath of a hazmat truck accident can involve extensive damage, injuries, and environmental contamination. A lawyer can help you navigate the intricate process of filing insurance claims. They are skilled in communicating with insurance companies and ensuring that all necessary documentation is provided to support your claim. 
  • Environmental compliance. Hazmat spills can result in severe environmental damage and pose a significant threat to public safety. Lawyers with expertise in hazardous material accidents have a deep understanding of environmental regulations at the federal, state, and local levels. 
  • Litigation expertise. Despite efforts to negotiate with insurance companies, there may be instances where a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached. In such cases, a Kansas City truck accident lawyer is prepared to take the case to court. They will represent your interests in a lawsuit, presenting a compelling case for compensation. 
  • Specialized knowledge. Hazmat truck accidents often involve various hazardous materials, each with its own characteristics and dangers. A lawyer specializing in these cases is well-versed in the specific hazards of various materials and knows how to factor them into the legal proceedings. This knowledge allows them to build a strong case for liability and damages.

Reasons for the Increase in Hazmat Truck Accidents

Over the past decade, hazardous materials truck accidents have more than doubled in frequency, raising concerns about public safety and environmental impact. Several factors contribute to this alarming trend, such as:

  • Increased transportation. More chemicals, fuels, and other potentially dangerous products are being shipped to meet growing demand. Exposure and risk increase with more hazmat trucks on the road.  
  • Aging infrastructure. The nation's highway infrastructure continues to age without adequate investment. Poorly maintained roads and bridges raise risks for all motorists, but especially for heavily loaded tractor-trailers, which take longer distances to slow and stop. Deteriorating conditions like potholes, deteriorating shoulders, and congestion stress truck drivers and their ability to operate safely, leading to more accidents.
  • Driver fatigue. Long hours on the road and demanding schedules can lead to driver fatigue, impairing their ability to react to potential hazards. Fatigued drivers operating big rigs packed with thousands of gallons of hazardous materials increase the chances of human error and catastrophic spills or collisions.
  • Inadequate training. Truck driver shortages and high turnover impact hiring practices and training. Some carriers may hire inexperienced or improperly vetted drivers to expand their fleets rapidly and do not provide the drivers with sufficient hazmat training. Lack of knowledge on safely operating and containing these specialty trucks heightens safety concerns.