New Jersey’s highways are crowded with trucks transporting hazardous materials to and from industrial sites, offices and even homes. The operators of these commercial vehicles are expected to take special care when carrying dangerous substances, but the pressure to complete trips on time often triggers terrifying accidents. These cases raise several legal issues beyond those usually reviewed in auto accident litigation.
When determining liability and damage questions in hazardous material vehicle crashes, insurers and attorneys evaluate factors that may include:
- Identification and safety precautions — When carrying hazardous materials, trucks must have a clear indication of that visible to other drivers. Special safety training and precautions are often required as well, depending on the specific cargo. Failure to abide by these regulations can be an indicator of negligence on the part of truck owners and operators.
- Liability of various parties — Transporting dangerous materials triggers legal responsibility in various parties. Not only is the driver liable for his actions, but the people and entities who own and maintain the vehicle have a duty of care as well. Special rules exist for particular substances, so the manufacturer or the company who contracted for the transport might also have legal responsibility.
- Exposure to toxic substances — When trucks carrying hazardous materials crash, there is an immediate threat that chemicals or other substances will be released. Physical damage can occur before authorities and hazardous material teams have a chance to clear the area. If you were caught in a “hot zone,” a full medical examination might be required to determine the extent of your exposure.
Severe accidents involving dangerous materials can be complicated given the risk of serious injury and the number of potentially responsible parties. If you have been in a crash with a truck carrying a hazardous substance, quick assistance from an experienced attorney might be necessary to protect your rights.
Seigel Law represents motor vehicle accident victims in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey. Contact us online or call 201.444.4000 today for a free case evaluation.