Dallas Tanker Truck Accident Lawyers
Did you get hurt in a tanker truck accident in Dallas? Was the truck driver at fault for your injuries? If so, contact The Benton Law Firm. We can help you pursue the maximum compensation you might be owed for your injuries and losses.
Every year, a staggering number of goods move throughout the country on commercial vehicles. The products we use, the clothes we wear, the medicine we take, and the food we consume get transported to stores by commercial truck drivers. They spend hours on the road and drive hundreds of miles in one shift. It’s a demanding and exhausting job, and unfortunately, it takes only one mistake to cause a disastrous crash.
Tanker trucks are fundamentally different than most commercial vehicles, such as big rigs. They consist of a front cab and cylindrical tank in the back. The tank often carries hazardous substances, such as propane gas. If the driver crashes into another vehicle, the tanker could explode, resulting in severe injuries and fatalities.
If you were the victim of a tanker truck accident, you don’t have to navigate a complex injury claim alone. Call (214) 777-7777 today to speak with one of our Dallas tanker truck accident lawyers and learn about your legal options.
Cargo You’ll Most Likely Find in a Tanker Truck
Tanker trucks transport some of the most dangerous cargo. Sometimes, they carry non-hazardous products like grain for the agricultural industry. However, other times they contain hazardous gases and liquid fuel, such as gasoline. Other tanks transport substances like hydrogen and nitrogen.
Some of these substances are highly flammable and can lead to an explosion if there’s an accident. Others can result in severe physical harm if they spill onto drivers and passengers in other vehicles. A collision with a tanker truck will more than likely result in serious injuries or fatalities.
Federal and State Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) created regulations to ensure the safety of tanker truck drivers and other motorists on the road. Since tanker trucks carry hazardous materials more often than non-hazardous materials, the rules are stricter, and drivers must have advanced training and education.
The FMCSA redefined “tanker truck” to ensure the drivers were hauling specific freight safely and legally. A tank vehicle has a design that allows for the transport of liquids or gaseous materials in a tank, an individual rated capacity of over 119 gallons, and an aggregate rated capacity of at least 1,000 gallons. The tank must also be a permanent or temporary attachment onto the truck or chassis.
This is an additional certification on the truck driver’s commercial driver’s license (CDL) that indicates they have extensive training in transporting liquids.
If a driver is transporting any of the following, they must have a tanker endorsement on their license:
- A loaded container, not empty
- Liquid or gaseous individual containers with over 119-gallon capacity
- Total combined volume of at least 1,000 gallons for liquid or gaseous materials
In addition to special requirements for tanker truck drivers, all commercial vehicle drivers of any kind must comply with the following FMCSA regulations:
- Drive no more than eleven hours after spending ten hours off duty
- Remain on duty for no more than fourteen consecutive hours
- Spend a maximum of sixty hours on the road in a seven-day period or seventy hours in an eight-day period
- Maintain driver logs that include records of on duty and off duty hours
- Refrain from using a handheld mobile device while operating a commercial vehicle
- Perform visual inspections of the truck to check for damage, defects, or other issues
- Speak, read, and write English well enough to understand traffic signs, communicate with others, and write logs
- Operate within the jurisdiction’s ordinances, laws, and regulations. For example, follow the posted speed limit
- Wear a seat belt while operating the truck
- Be at least 18 years old to drive within the state or 21 years old to drive across Texas state lines
Factors That Contribute to Tanker Truck Accidents
Most tanker truck crashes happen because of driver error. When they make a mistake, it could result in a catastrophic accident. Tanker truck crashes are one of the most dangerous due to the toxic chemicals involved. While the initial impact could cause severe damage, an exploding tank could lead to additional injuries and fatalities.
Improper Loading of Cargo
It’s rare for the contents of a tanker truck to cause hazardous conditions on the road without an accident occurring. Liquids and gases are pretty secure within the tank while the driver is transporting them to their destination. It’s unlikely they’ll leak out on their own without the help of some external force.
However, if the cargo load isn’t the right size, it can cause problems. If a liquid is only occupying three-fourths of the tank, it can move around during transport and cause the driver to lose control of the truck. Tanker trucks that contain liquids must be the right amount for the driver to operate and maneuver the vehicle safely.
The level of danger is usually greater with a tanker truck than a tractor-trailer that’s transporting produce to a grocery store. However, driver error can lead to an accident with any type of vehicle. If the tank crashes into a car while carrying something toxic, that creates even more danger.
Common driver errors that can cause a tanker truck accident include:
- Drowsy driving
- Drunk driving
- Distraction or inattention
- Failure to obey traffic laws
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Improper merging or lane changing
- Failure to check blind spots
Just like with regular cars, commercial vehicles require routine maintenance to ensure there isn’t damage or defects that could lead to an accident. The driver should inspect their tanker truck before and during their driving shift. If they notice any issues, they must report it to the trucking company and promptly repair it. If they ignore damage or don’t complete adequate inspections, they could become liable for an accident.
Additional Dangers With Tanker Truck Accidents
If you get into an accident with a tanker truck, there’s more than just the collision you need to worry about. Although you could suffer physical harm from the crash itself, there are other factors you should understand to avoid additional injuries.
- Chemical Leaks: Most tanker crashes result in cargo spills or leaks. If it’s a toxic substance or flammable chemical, you could suffer severe burns or get hurt in an explosion. You should maintain a safe distance from the commercial vehicle involved in your accident while you’re waiting for law enforcement to arrive.
- Toxic fumes: Even if you don’t come in physical contact with the chemicals, you could still breathe them in. Inhaling fumes from hazardous substances can lead to adverse symptoms and diseases. Some chemicals don’t contain an odor, so you might not even realize you’re in danger while you’re at the accident scene.
- Fires and explosions: A fire or explosion can occur after a tanker truck collides with another vehicle, telephone pole, or stationary object. These events can increase the risk of severe injuries and fatalities. If the chemicals explode, anyone in its path could suffer burns or get hit with flying debris.
How to Recover Financial Compensation
If you were the victim of a tanker truck accident and the truck driver was to blame, you could file an injury claim with their liability insurance company. All motorists in Texas are supposed to carry auto insurance with minimum liability limits. Those limits cover the injured party’s medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses associated with the crash.
Since commercial vehicles cause more damage than a passenger car, truck drivers have insurance with much higher liability limits than the average motorist. If the tanker truck contains non-hazardous materials, the minimum coverage must be $750,000. For trucks carrying hazardous or explosive substances, the liability limit must be at least $5 million.
The compensation you receive from an insurance claim is supposed to cover your damages. Damages are expenses and losses associated with an accident.
Economic damages are expenses, such as:
- Hospital bills
- Doctor appointments
- Out of pocket costs
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Car repairs
Non-economic damages are losses, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
- Disability or disfigurement
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship
The settlement amount you receive will depend on various factors, such as the severity of your injury and how much the crash impacted your life.
Another option for pursuing compensation is to file a lawsuit. In Texas, you must adhere to a statute of limitations if you want to sue the truck driver or their employer for the damages you incurred. The statute, which is a strict deadline, is two years. That means you have two years from the accident date to pursue a lawsuit in the civil court system.
At The Benton Law Firm, we understand the traumatic effects of a tanker truck accident. It’s overwhelming trying to recover while handling a legal case. You don’t have to go through this alone. We’ll take care of each step of the process on your behalf so you can focus on treating your injuries. When you hire us, we’ll fight hard to get you the maximum compensation available.
Call us at (214) 777-7777 to speak with one of our Dallas truck accident lawyers. We’ll begin working on your case immediately and seek the justice you deserve.