Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car understands the risk of an auto collision. What people do not think about every day is the added hazard of sharing the road with tanker trucks hauling highly flammable and dangerous materials. If you are hurt in an 18 Wheeler accident or another one of these massive vehicles, you need an experienced attorney to pursue your right to compensation for your injuries.
Oil tanker trucks are designed to carry huge amounts of fuel from state to state and are particularly commonplace in Texas where the oil and gas industry is a vital segment of the economy. Given the combustible nature of their “precious cargo,” fuel tanker trucks are built with safety in mind, and their drivers are typically held to strict standards. However, oil tanker truck accidents still occur, and they can have disastrous consequences.
What are the dangers of oil tanker accidents?
There is an increased chance of serious injury whenever a large commercial truck collides with a smaller car, SUV, van, or pickup truck. The difference in size and weight creates such a force that the smaller vehicle’s driver and passengers have little chance of leaving the accident unscathed. The hazards of an oil tanker crash are no different.
The additional risk factors particular to oil tankers include the following:
Tanker trucks barrel down the road hitched to tanks containing up to 11,000 gallons of oil or gasoline. The sheer quantity of flammable liquid creates a significant risk of a deadly oil tanker explosion in the event of an impact. This type of fuel tanker explosion can cause death or serious injury not only to those directly involved in the accident but to others in the surrounding area.
Even in the absence of an explosion, an oil tanker’s flammable cargo always presents a risk of fire in the aftermath of a collision or due to mechanical failure or a defective part. Whatever the cause, a gasoline fire can do serious harm to anyone in the vicinity, as well as causing significant property damage.
The rollover threshold of oil tankers is significantly lower than other trucks, making them more prone to this type of accident. It should go without saying that a rollover accident involving a fuel tanker truck can lead to devastating damage and injury.
Loss of control
Oil tanker trucks present a unique handling challenge to their drivers. Particularly when the tank is not completely full, sloshing of the liquid cargo can cause the driver to lose control and crash into other vehicles on the road.
Spills or leaks
Improper loading or maintenance of the tank can lead to spills or leaks of an oil tanker’s cargo, which can, in turn, cause a collision. Oil or gas that spills from a tanker truck can also create a hazard for other vehicles on the road, even after the tanker has left the scene.
Improper loading or maintenance
The fuel tanker apparatus is equipped with plenty of safety features, but it must be handled properly by professionals and never overloaded. If the driver or other employees of the trucking company failed to do so, it may lead to a spill or an accident.
Negligence and tanker truck accidents
Due to their excessive size and weight, fuel tanker trucks have much longer stopping times, and they lack the maneuverability of smaller vehicles. Thus, driving one of these tankers requires extra care and ability. Nonetheless, tanker accidents often result from the truck operator’s negligent or reckless driving, which may include any of the following:
- Distracted driving, including texting while driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Drowsy driving
- Failure to maintain the vehicle or secure cargo properly
- Failure to obey traffic laws and signs
- Tailgating or brake checking
- Reckless or aggressive driving
- Failure to take precautions in inclement weather
If you are injured in a fuel tanker accident caused by the truck driver’s negligent or reckless behavior, you are likely entitled to demand compensation from the driver or the trucking company. If the accident is due to another cause outside of your control, you still have the right to sue for your injuries. An experienced Houston truck accident attorney can help you determine who was at fault and who is liable for the damages caused.
Compensation for tanker truck accident victims
Compensation is available for those who have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving an oil tanker truck, including payment for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
The aftermath of a fuel tanker collision can be particularly devastating. It is critical to retain a personal injury attorney who has specific experience handling personal injury and wrongful death claims resulting from tanker truck accidents. For a free consultation, please contact the Law Office of Richard Schechter, P.C.