You’ve seen long commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) marked with “flammable” or “hazardous materials” stickers and signs on the roadways of Nevada. Those are probably tanker trucks. Tanker trucks carry liquids or gases such as gasoline, natural gas, or other hazardous materials.
Tanker truck accidents are some of the most dangerous collisions on the road, for several reasons. The first is the danger posed by their cargo. If the accident damages the truck sufficiently, the cargo may spill, sometimes posing a public health hazard. Combustible cargo may burn, endangering victims near the scene and first responders. If it is liquid, it can pose a danger to other vehicles, which may spin out or have additional accidents, multiplying the effect of the first accident.
The second is the size and weight of tanker trucks. All CMVs are exponentially heavier than most other vehicles on the road, tanker trucks included. They are also higher up off the ground. Occupants of passenger cars and other vehicles smaller than the tanker are thus at greater risk of serious injury or death. Read on to learn more about tanker truck concerns from our experienced truck accident lawyers.
Are Tanker Trucks More Prone to Accidents?
Nationwide, tanker trucks were involved in 5,733 crashes in a recent year, and roughly 372 of those accidents were fatal. While these statistics are sobering, there’s no reason to believe that tanker trucks are more likely to have an accident than any other CMV. The issue is that tanker trucks can pose a greater danger to other motorists and the general public than other CMVs if they are in an accident, because of the danger of the cargo.
All tanker truck drivers must hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Nevada CDL holders who wish to drive a tanker truck must obtain the required endorsements: N for a tank vehicle, H for hazmat, and X for hazmat and tankers. These endorsements ensure appropriate training and licensing to operate a tanker truck. All tanker truck companies must hire only drivers with the proper endorsements and a CDL license.
If a trucking company fails to check a driver’s licensure or a driver fails to obtain proper endorsements and licensure, these failures can make either the trucking company or the driver fully or partially responsible for the accident.
7 Steps to Follow After Being Involved in a Tanker Truck Accident
Anyone in an accident with any type of truck let alone a tanker truck needs to focus first on their safety follow these steps after your accident:
- If you are seriously injured, call 911 immediately.
- If you are not seriously injured, you need to prioritize your safety. Move your vehicle to a safe place and then call 911. If the tanker is seriously damaged, such that the cargo could escape, move far enough away that an explosion or fire will not hurt you.
- Exercise caution as you move. Tanker accidents can spread the truck or its cargo across lanes of traffic and lead to further accidents. Consider all motorists and passersby.At the same time, don’t leave the scene of the accident entirely. Nevada law requires motorists to stay on the scene, render aid if possible and necessary, and exchange information with other drivers. You could face misdemeanor charges if you leave the scene before police arrive, conduct an investigation, and tell you that you are free to leave. The duty to stay at the scene does not apply if you need emergency medical care and transport. Law enforcement will likely seek you out to ask you questions about the accident later.
- Exchange contact information and insurance information with all other drivers.
- When law enforcement arrives, tell them completely and fully what you saw but don’t admit fault for the accident. Get a copy of the crash report afterward—it’s valuable evidence.
- If you have a smartphone with you and you can do so safely, take pictures of the crash scene. Your goal is to collect evidence about how the crash occurred and the damage it caused. Remember, safety first. Do not get close if it isn’t safe.
- After you have exchanged information with law enforcement and other drivers, get a medical examination to determine whether you are injured (or the extent of your injuries, if you know you are). Go to an emergency room or your doctor promptly, as oftentimes injuries are only felt later due to the effect of adrenaline in the system. Follow all medical instructions and keep all medical records.
What if I Wasn’t Directly in the Accident but Close Enough to Worry About the Release of Hazardous Materials?
If a tanker carrying hazardous materials is involved in a crash, it may release hazardous materials (like a diesel truck accident) into the environment. If you are concerned about this, contact an experienced tanker truck accident lawyer.
How Do I Figure out Who Is Responsible for the Crash?
Call a truck accident lawyer.
If a tanker truck accident injured you, the responsible person (or company) may owe you compensation for your injuries and other harms.
Finding out who caused a tanker crash, however, is often quite complicated, for several reasons. First, what appears to cause an accident isn’t always the actual reason. Let’s look at an example. If the truck is speeding so fast it misses a curve on the freeway, the obvious conclusion is that the driver was to blame for going too fast. And, in fact, the driver may bear responsibility for speeding.
But what if the driver tells law enforcement that he pumped the brakes and downshifted, only to find that the truck didn’t slow down? If that’s the case, the problem could instead be inadequate maintenance or defective components. The responsible parties could therefore instead be the trucking company, maintenance and repair subcontractors, or truck or component manufacturers.
Due to the potential complexity, it is usually necessary to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of a tanker truck accident. Injured victims need to know who the responsible party is, because responsible parties may well owe them compensation for injuries caused by the accident. A truck accident lawyer can access the relevant records and help victims determine who is responsible.