HAZMAT Truck Accidents

Transporting hazardous chemicals and other hazardous materials is one of the most dangerous aspects of today’s trucking industry. Hazardous materials are commonly transported on tractortrailer trucks and other vehicles on highways across America. For safety reasons, government agencies have set up some very strict regulations and guidelines for transporting these hazardous chemicals and materials on roadways.

Some of the most hazardous chemicals that are transported on America’s highways today include the following:

  • Flammable and combustible liquids
  • Explosives
  • Gases
  • Chemicals
  • Petroleum

Whenever trucks, tractortrailers, and other vehicles carrying these hazardous materials are involved in a roadway accident, the results can be devastating and, in some cases, deadly.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a motor vehicle accident with a truck or tractortrailer carrying hazardous chemicals, you need experienced legal representation. Our experienced Clearwater hazmat truck accident attorneys will be able to discuss the facts and circumstances of your individual case with you, evaluate your case, and potentially help you maximize the value of the damages in your case.

Classes of Hazardous Materials

Hazardous materials that are transported on Florida roadways can be broken down into several classes in order to distinguish between extremely hazardous materials and relatively minor hazardous materials and risks. Some of the most common classifications used to differentiate between types of hazardous materials are as follows:

  • Corrosive
  • Radioactive
  • Poisonous
  • Flammable solids, liquids, and gases
  • Oxidizers
  • Spontaneously combustible materials
  • Explosives

When any of these materials are transported on Florida roadways, they must follow specific shipment regulations and procedures. When shippers and others involved in the process do not follow proper government regulations and protocol, very serious accidents and injuries may result.

Transporting Hazardous Materials on Florida Roadways

One important government regulation that applies to hazmat transport on Florida roadways requires warning signs and safety placards on all commercial vehicles that transport hazardous materials.

The government also imposes regulations on the drivers of hazmat vehicles. In addition to possessing a valid commercial driver’s license – or CDL – Florida truck drivers who transport hazardous materials must first complete various training sessions and must also pass certain required tests.

Components of Hazmat Transportation

Hazmat transportation in Florida involves several parties – any of whom could be deemed liable in a hazmat truck accident case:

The shipper of the hazmat – The shipper owes a duty to ensure that the hazardous materials being transported are properly packaged, marked, and labeled before the shipment leaves its original location.

The carrier of the hazmat — The carrier of the hazardous materials must transport the materials to their proper final destination. The shipment containing the hazardous materials must also be properly packaged, marked, and labeled. If the any of these is lacking, it is the carrier’s job to properly refuse the shipment.

The driver of the truck or other vehicle transporting the hazmat – The driver of the truck carrying the hazardous materials must follow all of the pertinent government regulations and must drive in a reasonably safe and prudent manner while operating the truck on the roadway.

If there are any issues or dangers involved in the transportation process, it is up to any of these people or entities to refuse shipment.

Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof in Florida Hazmat Truck Accident Cases

Defendants in a New Port Richey hazmat truck accident case might include the hazmat shipper, the hazmat carrier, and/or the driver of the truck or other vehicle transporting the hazmat. Any or all of these entities or individuals could be deemed negligent in the event of a roadway accident.

In every Florida negligence case, the injured party – or the plaintiff – must demonstrate that an applicable duty of care existed, that the defendant or defendants breached this duty of care and that this breach factually and legally resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.

Duty of care – Shippers and carriers of hazardous materials are held to the standard of care of a “reasonable” shipper or carrier acting under the same or similar circumstances.

For example, shippers of hazardous materials have an affirmative duty to ensure that the materials being transported are properly packaged, marked, and labeled, in accordance with the applicable government regulations. Carriers have a duty to transport the materials to their final destination safely. Truck drivers have a duty to drive in a reasonably safe and prudent manner for the conditions then-and-there existing on the roadway.

Breach (or Violation) of the Duty of Care This means that the shipper, carrier, or truck driver violated the applicable duty of care. For example, if shippers and carriers do not follow the applicable government regulations or do not refuse to accept a shipment under certain circumstances, then they may have breached the applicable duty of care. Similarly, if a hazmat truck driver fails to follow the applicable rules of the road, then he or she may be deemed negligent under the law.

Causation An injured plaintiff must show that the hazmat shipper, carrier, or driver violated the applicable standard of care and must demonstrate that this violation proximately resulted in certain injuries and damages.

Damages Damages in Clearwater hazmat truck accident cases consist of both economic and noneconomic damages. Potential damages available to injured plaintiffs in these cases may include some or all of the following:

  • Medical bills and expenses (hospital, doctor, and physical therapy bills)
  • Lost wages for time missed from work
  • Out-of-pocket costs and expenses
  • Past, present, and future pain and suffering
  • Loss of earning capacity (in cases of permanent disability or damage)
  • Loss of spousal support or consortium
  • Compensation for related mental health, psychological, or psychiatric treatment
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Loss of quality or enjoyment of life
  • Loss of benefits
  • Death benefits (if applicable)
  • Punitive damages (available only under limited circumstances)

Contact a Clearwater HAZMAT Truck Accident Lawyer Today to Discuss Your Case

If you have been injured in an accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, our experienced attorneys may be able to help you obtain the monetary compensation you need and deserve under Florida law.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Clearwater hazmat truck accident lawyer, please call Dolman Law Group at 727-451-6900 or contact us online.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275