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What You Should Know About Tanker Truck Accidents

Tanker Truck Accident Injury Claims

Most people see tanker trucks on the roadway and never think about what happens when these large trucks hauling liquid cargo are involved in an accident. Some tanker trucks carry non-hazardous liquids like milk. Others, however, carry hazardous materials that can cause terrible injuries in a roadway accident.

Tanker trucks are not only large and heavy on their own, but their liquid cargo adds to their weight. Small tanker trucks can hold approximately 3,000 gallons of liquid while a large tanker truck can carry as many as 11,600 gallons. Even an empty tanker truck can cause serious damage to another vehicle and its occupants. The Federal Highway Administration mandates that no tanker truck may weigh more than 81,000 pounds, but this is enormous compared to the average passenger car, which weighs a mere 4,000 pounds.

Tanker Trucks and Roadway Incidents

Like any type of large vehicle, tanker trucks have large blind spots and are prone to jackknife and rollover accidents. And because they are so large and heavy, if a car stops suddenly or swerves in front of them they are much harder to stop and control than a regular passenger vehicle. If they are carrying a hazardous liquid, the situation can be even more serious.

Like other large trucks, tanker trucks have air brakes that can fail, loads attached to a hitch which may be improperly connected, and tanks that are often pressurized or insulated depending on the materials they are carrying.

Risks Are Greater in Tanker Truck Accidents

All roadway accidents pose risks to those involved, but when an accident involves a tanker truck, the risks are even greater. This is because a tanker truck accident is more likely to result in a fire, explosion, chemical leak or spill, or a rollover due to the tanker’s height and instability.

When a tanker truck is involved in an accident, these vehicles are typically carrying combustible materials, presenting a high probability of a fire. Victims are more likely to suffer long-term injuries than in a standard car accident, including burns. Given the high risk of an explosion when a tanker is involved in an accident, there is also a higher probability of fatalities than in a standard car accident.

Drivers in accidents with tanker trucks are not the only people at risk for injury. Other motor vehicles on the road may have to navigate the wreckage to get to a safe location, or cannot dodge the accident. Additionally, nearby residents and those working in nearby businesses can be impacted by the fire or toxic fumes emitted after an accident. The potential for multiple victims in a tanker truck crash is far greater than it is in a crash involving passenger vehicles.

Potential Injuries in Tanker Truck Crashes

Anytime you are involved in an accident with a large truck the potential for serious injury increases. Unfortunately, the risk of death in accidents involving trucks is also high. Families who have lost a loved one in a tanker truck crash in Florida should seek immediate advice from a Florida commercial truck accident attorney.

Those who do survive a crash with a tanker truck may face long-term physical problems. Some of the most common types of injuries that result from truck crashes include:

  • Burns and disfiguration – An explosion during a truck crash can cause vehicle occupants and passengers serious burns. Burns nearly always result in scarring and disfigurement.
  • Traumatic brain injury – Even when they are wearing their seatbelts, vehicle occupants involved in a crash with a truck will be thrown around inside their vehicle. This can result in serious head and neck injuries, including traumatic brain injuries.
  • Spinal cord injuries – The force involved in a crash with a truck can leave accident victims with serious spinal cord injuries that can result in paralysis. People with spinal cord injuries sometimes need long-term care at home or in a full-time care facility.
  • Internal injuries – Because of the force with which a truck strikes a car, it is common for victims to suffer internal injuries. These injuries can include ruptured organs or other damage that can cause long-term health issues.

Victims face these and many other common injuries after an accident involving a tanker truck. Other injuries like broken or fractured bones, amputations, and back and neck injuries common in all types of car accidents are all the more likely to occur during accidents involving tanker trucks.

No Surprises When it Comes to Tanker Truck Accident Causes

Like other accidents on Florida roadways, there are many reasons that tanker truck accidents happen. Commercial drivers are not perfect, and sometimes their actions put other drivers at risk. Truck drivers who are not paying attention and fail to notice changing road conditions can unexpectedly collide with other vehicles. Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol may not be as quick to react or may overreact, causing an accident. Another common risk with tanker trucks and other commercial vehicles in driver fatigue, in spite of mandated rest periods.

Unfortunately, some situations cause accidents over which a truck driver may have no control, such as an uneven load that sloshes around while in transit. This can result in an unstable tanker rolling over. A full tanker may also be prone to jackknife accidents if the driver has to suddenly slam on the brakes to avoid another vehicle or roadway obstruction.

Accident Scenes Are Chaotic After Tanker Truck Crashes

Because most tanker trucks are carrying hazardous materials, there is almost always chaos at the scene of a tanker truck accident. Hazmat teams must be called in to clean up any spilled chemicals, and fire equipment and emergency vehicles are everywhere. Law enforcement officers may be attempting to obtain information about the accident from the victims as well as potential witnesses but may have difficulty doing so given everything going on around them. If you are questioned by law enforcement at the scene, simply provide them with a clear and truthful explanation of your memory of the accident without embellishment and without accepting any responsibility for the accident.

Victims Have Rights After Tanker Truck Accidents

Tanker truck crash victims nearly always suffer from physical injuries as a result of the crash, and they may feel helpless. After an accident, victims are often transferred to a medical facility by ambulance. They undergo numerous tests, are treated for their injuries, and are often prescribed pain medications. Insurance adjusters sometimes contact accident victims while they are hospitalized, and law enforcement officers may come to the hospital to question them.

In most cases, accident victims should avoid answering any questions until they can seek the advice of a skilled personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with truck accidents.

Recovery After Tanker Truck Accidents

Tanker truck accident victims usually face long-term recovery. In addition to being out of work for an extended period of time, they may need multiple surgical procedures, ongoing tests, pain medication, and rehabilitation services. For those who suffer burns, recovery time is particularly long and painful and may involve skin grafts, fighting infection, and plastic surgery to repair scarring. The aftermath of a tanker truck accident can be devastating both physically and emotionally.

And financially, the aftermath of a tanker truck accident can be terrifying. While a victim is out of work, they are still responsible for paying regular bills including mortgage or rental payments, insurance payments, utility payments, and more. Many victims find they have drained their savings before they are partially through their treatment, which puts additional stress on them and their family.

Insurance Adjusters and Tanker Truck Accidents

Because Florida is a no fault insurance state, the first claim a victim must make is through their own insurance company. Many insurance companies attempt to settle with their insured quickly because they believe doing so is in their best interest. The problem with this is that they will often settle without taking into consideration the expenses that person will have to pay during their recovery time, or the amount of time that person may be out of work.

Because Florida is a no-fault state, one must have suffered a serious injury before they can file a personal injury lawsuit. However, one of the factors that courts take into consideration when determining whether an accident victim is eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit is whether the victim suffered significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement. This allows victims who have received serious burns or other major injuries in a tanker truck accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for their injuries.

Investigation Will Reveal the Party at Fault

The parties at fault for an accident are liable for their actions. If the other driver was speeding, driving erratically, or was distracted, they may be entirely responsible for the accident.

The driver’s employer or the maintenance company may bear responsibility for issues with the vehicle, including brake failure, rollovers caused by uneven loads, or hazardous leaks that lead to an accident.

In most cases, trucks have a black box that can provide law enforcement officers with the driver’s speed at the time of the accident, as well as other information that may make the investigation easier.

Regardless of the situation, if you have been in an accident involving a tanker truck, you should speak with an experienced attorney about your recollection of the accident before you speak with anyone else about the specifics. Insurance adjusters, law enforcement officers, and the truck driver’s employer may ask you questions that seem innocent but could be used to place some of the fault for the accident on you, the victim. They might also ask you questions like “how are you feeling?” to attempt to get you to minimize the severity of your injuries.

Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

You may think you can negotiate with your insurance company on your own, but doing so would be a mistake. Insurers are hoping you will settle your claim quickly, because a fast settlement means they will likely pay far less than if you had an attorney negotiating a full and fair settlement on your behalf. Keep in mind, insurance companies make money when you pay premiums. They lose money when they have to pay claims.

Working with an experienced personal injury lawyer means that someone with your best interests in mind and experience negotiating similar cases can get a full picture of your injuries, your financial losses, and your non-financial losses. The attorney can then work with your insurance company to make sure your settlement is fair and takes all the factors involved in your loss into consideration. When the insurance company is not being reasonable, an attorney can litigate your case in court and demonstrate to the judge or jury that a larger settlement is more appropriate given the specific factors in your situation.

When someone has lost a loved one in a tanker truck accident, a wrongful death attorney can help them recover the financial costs associated with their loved one’s end-of-life care, burial expenses, and funeral expenses. No amount of money can ever make up for losing a loved one, but your family should not have to suffer financially after such a devastating loss.

Any Florida roadway accident can result in serious injuries. However, the risk is significantly higher when the accident involves a tanker truck. Tanker truck accidents often involve dangerous chemicals, a higher risk of burn injuries, and a higher risk of death. Victims of these accidents face long-term recovery periods, particularly if they have suffered burns. For many, the road to recovery is fraught with setbacks because of infections and secondary problems that require additional surgical procedures.

If you or a loved one were in a tanker truck accident, contact an experienced Florida personal injury attorney. Most truck accident lawyers offer free consultations where you can learn more about your rights so that you have the information you need to decide how to move forward.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Clearwater Office
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765
Phone: (727) 451-6900

Truck Accident