Gillette Tanker Truck Accident Attorneys
The trucking industry is a major component of Wyoming’s economy, transporting coal, oil, and natural gas throughout the country. Because of the influx of these powerful vehicles on the road, everyday day drivers can be caught up in serious traffic collisions. These can be especially dangerous when the accident involves a tanker truck that contains large quantities of flammable gas and oil. Victims can suffer broken bones, spinal cord trauma, brain injuries, serious burns, and, in some cases, toxic exposure.
Tanker truck accidents are some of the most serious accidents that can occur on Wyoming roadways. Drivers are required to follow strict regulations and keep focused at all times, but many fail in this regard. If you were injured because of a negligent truck driver transporting oil, natural gas, or toxic chemicals, contact the Gillette truck accident attorneys at Steven Titus & Associates, P.C. Our legal team can launch an in-depth investigation into your case and aggressively pursue compensation. Call us at (307) 257-7800 to learn what legal options are available to you.
Because of the dangerous materials that are transported by tanker trucks, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has imposed strict regulations regarding their weight and the amount of materials that can be transported by a single vehicle. In addition, the FMCSA requires all tanker drivers who are transporting hazardous material to receive a tanker endorsement from the administration to ensure they have the necessary experience and knowledge to safely drive a tanker truck.
However, when drivers are inexperienced or reckless, several dangerous accidents can occur, including:
Rollovers: Tanker trucks are more prone to rollovers and spills when compared to other large trucks. When transporting liquid materials like oil, the material can slosh around within the tank, throwing off the weight distribution of the truck. If the material sloshes too much to one side, the truck may tip over and cause a massive spill and pileup.
Jackknifing: Similar to rollovers, jackknifing often occurs because the truck is overloaded or has an uneven weight. If the driver has to come to a sudden stop and brakes too quickly, the tank can come crashing forward against the truck. This causes the tank to shift to a 90-degree angle, side-swiping other vehicles. This can lead to a chain reaction, often resulting in rollovers as well as hitch failures.
Hitch Failures: Also known as runaway trailers, hitch failures occur when the tank becomes disconnected from the truck and rolls down the road on its own, causing devastating accidents, injuries, and inevitably a spill. Hitch failures can occur due to mechanical failure, jackknifing, and rollovers.
Any one of these accidents can lead to devastating injuries and costly medical bills. Despite referring to them as accidents, they are often due to negligent behavior on the part of the truck driver or trucking company.
The state of Wyoming has ranked eighth nationally in crude oil and natural gas protection, according to the Wyoming State Geological Survey. As a result, our state is in high demand for truck drivers to transport these hazardous materials across the country. However, the United States is currently in a trucker shortage despite the fact that we need truck drivers more than ever. Based on an analysis by the American Trucking Association (ATA), the industry could be down 100,000 drivers by 2023 and 160,000 by 2028.
Because the oil and natural gas industries are strapped for truckers, companies often push against regulations and safety standards. This can lead to them require drivers to meet strict deadlines, overload their vehicles, and disobey hours of service guidelines which are designed to keep drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. In addition, the industry often higher inexperienced drivers to meet demands. The FMCSA cites training violations as one of the most common issues in the trucking industry.
Tanker truck accidents and spills can occur due to:
- Inexperienced drivers who are not properly trained or certified
- Fatigue or drowsiness brought on by disobeying hours of services
- Mechanical failures that were not fixed following an inspection
- Improperly connected or sealed tanks
- Speeding or driving recklessly to meet deadlines
- Overloading a tanker truck with hazardous materials
At the end of the day, many tanker truck accidents are the result of negligent behavior, which can mean multiple parties are liable for your injuries.
Three main parties can have a part in a tanker truck accident: drivers, trucking companies, and mechanics.
Negligent truck drivers are often the obvious group to blame for an accident. They are expected to drive these high-powered vehicles across multiple county and state lines for long hours while obeying not just the rules of the road but federal regulations. Most should be well-trained and experienced in transporting hazardous materials, as well as being certified by the federal government. However, some are hired without proper training and choose to dismiss important regulations, such as the hours of service. If your accident was caused because the driver was fatigued, then they could be held liable for your injuries.
Alongside drivers, their parent trucking company can have a hand in your accident. Drivers are often pushed by their employers to meet tight deadlines and disobey hours of service. Additionally, companies may avoid providing proper training, hire drivers with a history of substance abuse, or fail to require detailed inspections of tanker trucks. If there is a mechanical failure on a vehicle that they ignored and an accident occurred as a result of this carelessness, the trucking company can be considered an at-fault party in your case.
However, there are scenarios where trucking companies and drivers do not hold all of the fault for an accident. Manufacturers are also expected to design and produce safe vehicles and tankers for transportation. If there is a design flaw that can cause a spill or rollover, then the manufacturer would be at fault. Similarly, mechanics and repairs shops are required to perform detailed inspection and maintenance on the vehicles. When they fail to replace a damaged component, their negligence could lead to tragic accidents.
Trucking accidents are incredibly complicated and may have multiple points of fault. The evidence is also extremely complex, ranging from hard drive data from the truck’s black box to maintenance reports. To fully understand this information and successfully pursue a truck accident claim, you need a legal team that has the expertise and determination to hold trucking insurance companies to their policies.
At Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., our Gillette trucking accident attorneys have provided their legal services to Wyoming accident victims in a variety of cases. We have the skills, knowledge, and experience to thoroughly investigate your case. Call us at (307) 257-7800 to schedule a free consultation.
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