Any time a commercial truck is involved in an accident, there’s the potential for catastrophe. There’s even greater risk when the truck is transporting hazardous materials. Hazmat spills cause immediate and long-term repercussions to both people and the environment, and it often takes working with a qualified personal injury attorney for individuals to receive adequate compensation after the event.
HAZMAT – Hazardous Materials
HAZMAT is the abbreviation for “hazardous materials.” The phrase describes any substance that can harm health, property or the planet. These substances are strictly regulated at every level, and especially during transportation. Here are a few examples of materials the U.S. Department of Transportation and the International Air Transportation Association defines as hazardous:
- Combustible commodities like aerosols and lighters
- Corrosive materials
- Dry ice
- Explosives, gasses, flammable liquids
- Combustible solids
- Oxidizing substances
- Radioactive materials
- Organisms or microorganisms that have been genetically modified
- Poisons and infectious substances
Not just anyone can haul hazardous materials. Truckers are required by law to undergo specific training and get a special endorsement. The trucking company also is required to follow protocols for labeling, packaging and handling.
Trucks carrying hazardous materials are also required to carry additional insurance with increased limits. Because the damage potential is so high, they might be required to carry millions more in coverage than what’s required with standard cargo.
Not Just Trucking Accidents
Most of the time, when you hear of a hazardous materials spill in the news, it has to do with an 18-wheeler accident, but that’s not the only way people can come in contact with dangerous materials. For example, this year more than 60 people got sick at a Houston-area water park when a chemical spill caused lifeguards and park guests to go into respiratory distress. A three-year-old girl and a pregnant woman were among those transported from the park for emergency medical care after a chemical combination of sulfuric acid and bleach entered a kiddie pool.
Mystery Spills That Lead to Shutdowns
If you search online for HAZMAT spills in the last year, you may notice a pattern. In Texas this April lanes of US 96 outside of Center were shut down for a hazmat leak, but news reports don’t disclose what substance was released in the crash. In August, Port Arthur police confirmed the cleanup of a spill that shut down the intersection of Texas 87 and Texas 82. While they asked the public to avoid the area during cleanup, they declined to share what was spilled or how they cleaned it up. People in the area don’t really know what they might have been exposed to or if they’re now safe.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer if You Suspect HAZMAT Exposure
If you were involved in an accident with a truck carrying hazardous materials, or if you suspect toxins have been introduced into your environment from another source, we’re here to help. Click here to schedule your free consultation.