Tanker Truck Accident Lawyer: Chicago, Illinois
Were you involved in an accident with serious injuries involving a tanker truck, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by another's negligent actions? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys represent tanker truck crash victims and surviving family members.
Call our Chicago burn injury lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Dangers of Tanker Trucks
Commercial trucks are a vital part of our economy, but these vehicles can be dangerous on the roads. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation's 2015 Annual Crash Report, there were 2,075 crashes involving tractor-trailers in which someone was injured that year, and 106 fatal crashes occurred.
Tanker trucks have been involved in some deadly accidents due to their unique dangers for other drivers on the road.
Tankers are large trucks that are used to transport hazardous materials like gasoline from one place to another. These trucks are designed to carry thousands of gallons of liquid chemicals and weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more when loaded.
They are specially designed to carry liquid cargo and meet the heavily regulated norms that govern such vehicles when delivering to gas stations and other customers.
Tanker trucks carrying hazardous, dangerous, and flammable liquids and materials can create catastrophic injuries or wrongful death in an explosion or chemical spill. In addition, tanker truck explosion survivors usually suffer long-term serious personal injuries, disfigurement, and severe burns.
Tanker trucks come in a variety of sizes, with the capacity ranging from 5,500 to 11,600 gallons. Some of the largest tanker trucks can have up to 5 axles.
The very fact that these trucks carry gasoline and other flammable chemicals makes them extremely dangerous than a typical truck. An accident involving tanker trucks can cause severe damage, catastrophic injuries, and death.
An Accident With a Tanker Truck
Extreme movement of the tanker truck's cargo load can shift the weight when the tank is not full, causing the rig to become unstable. Often, catastrophic explosions of flammable loads happen when tankers roll over while carrying unsteady cargo or driving the rig at too high a speed for the road conditions.
Fuel truck accidents involving tanker trucks are usually due to driving errors, malfunctioning equipment, improper loading, and poor vehicle maintenance. The trucker's decisions and actions while driving or maneuvering the vehicle can create a serious tanker accident within seconds.
However, unlike common truck accident collisions, unique factors often play into many accidents involving tanker trucks. These include:
- Not Enough Stopping Distance– The sheer size of the tanker truck and the weight of the load require enough stopping distance to maintain safety on the roadway.
- Inexperienced drivers, weather conditions, and accidental mishaps can create serious catastrophic consequences when the driver does not allow enough distance to come to a complete stop.
- Unstable Tanker Maneuverability– Liquids and loose materials carried in a commercial tanker can make the rig unstable instantly when the truck driver swerves the vehicle, drives too fast, attempts to stop too quickly, or attempts to maneuver the trailer and truck on uneven roads
- Failing Brake Systems– Filled or empty tanker trucks can jackknife easily when the rig's air brakes failed to act as designed. In addition, downhill braking can heat the brake system and create unique problems when attempting to stop the tanker or manage its maneuverability.
Tanker trucks mostly carry liquid or gaseous substances such as milk, gasoline, ethanol, petroleum products, oil, acids, chemicals, and often, the cargo carried by such trucks is quite dangerous. Inflammable substances can leak out or spill out on the road after a tanker truck accident and lead to an explosion or fire.
Even non-fatal accidents can lead to severe injuries resulting in life-altering changes or lead to lifelong health issues in victims of such accidents. Accidents involving tanker trucks can also cause significant property damage and sometimes destroy other vehicles on the road that are hit by a crashing tanker.
Tanker Truck Accidents Statistics
As per the figures provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, 5 to 10 percent of accidents that involve trucks are caused by tanker trucks.
A total of 9,610 tanker truck crashes were reported in 2017, and 372 of these were fatal, while 3,505 involved severe and moderate reported injuries and another 5,733 were simple tow-away accidents without any reported deaths or injuries.
Tanker truck crashes can cause injury to the driver, passengers of any other vehicle involved in the serious accident, pedestrians who were on the road at that time, those who may be affected by a fire, or even people living in nearby buildings.
From 2015-2016, there was an accident every 43 minutes involving a semi-truck. Almost all of these accidents involved property damage, and only 6% were fatal, but tanker truck accidents account for just 3-4 percent of all semi-truck crashes on average.
An estimated 500 people are killed every year in tanker truck wrecks, while thousands more are injured or maimed due to a tanker crash.
Tanker Trucks Accident Causes
Tanker truck crashes are a serious issue in the transportation industry. There are many different causes for tanker truck crashes, including speeding, following too closely, aggressive driving, and work zone errors such as lane changes or turning movements at intersections without yielding the right-of-way.
Experts investigating explosions will analyze data and gather evidence to determine the cause of the tanker truck accident.
The most common causes involved in tanker truck accidents include:
- Deadlines and Commitments– Trucking companies and the drivers moving hazardous and flammable cargo must maintain moral responsibility for keeping the public safe. However, delivery commitments and trucking company deadlines often push tanker truck drivers and management to drive long hours or long distances when the driver is fatigued, tired, or ill-equipped to arrive safely.
- Operator Inexperience– Investigators often find those truck drivers involved in a tanker truck explosion were not trained properly by the trucking company to properly handle the rig while caring for hazardous toxic materials, flammable industrial chemicals, or dangerous cargo.
- Overloading– Cargo that is improperly balanced or overloaded for the size of the rig can create a hazardous situation where the vehicle becomes difficult to maneuver, stop in time, or handle safely on the roadway.
- Improperly Maintained Vehicles– Because of the hazardous nature of the dangerous cargo being carried, any improperly maintained rig can break down at the most crucial time, creating unsafe conditions for the truck driver and all other motorists on the road.
- Equipment Failure– Braking systems, tires, axles, signal lights, and other truck components must work properly to minimize any potential of equipment failure. Often, investigators find manufacturing defects, design flaws, or improper components that cause equipment failure when the truck is on the road.
- Inadequate Safety Policies– It is the responsibility of the trucking company to develop, maintain and implement adequate safety policies followed by managers, supervisors, loaders/unloaders, and truck drivers to ensure the cargo is transported as safely as possible. Trucking companies can be held legally liable for injuries, property damage, or death from a lack of safety policies.
- Road Hazards– Truck drivers in tanker truck explosions often drive erratically or irresponsibly, leading to accidents with injuries or death. In addition, significant road hazards, including weather conditions, roadway construction, heavy traffic, and other conditions, often involve serious tanker crashes.
Tankers are quite heavy and need a good amount of time and space to stop. The lengthy stopping distance makes them vulnerable to accidents as the tanker truck driver may not stop the commercial vehicle in a short amount of time.
Tankers also have huge blind spots that restrict the truck driver's ability to see specific areas while driving, thus causing the tanker crash. The blind spots usually extend 30 feet behind the trailer, 20 feet in front of the truck cab, two lanes to the right, and one to the left.
Generally, tankers are top-heavy and carry liquid hazardous materials that are unstable and constantly in flux within tankers or other trucks, making them prone to tipping over and roll over while making sharp turns.
To top all of this, commercial drivers work incredibly long hours, impairing their ability to drive safely. As a result, fatigue is considered among the leading causes of tanker truck crashes.
Other reasons a tanker truck accident occur could include:
- Overloading the vehicle
- Failure to check the commercial vehicle for everyday wear and tear
- Failure to do regular safety checks
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or any drug
- If a driver is driving at high speed to meet close deadlines
- Insufficiently trained drivers
What Tanker Truck Drivers Can Do
Driving tankers can be a dangerous job. You are required to follow the traffic laws and make sure you're using proper equipment, but accidents happen.
If you've been injured in a crash, here are some steps that will help you move forward with your tanker truck accident claim:
- Keep detailed logs of all medical treatment received since the accident
- Document any evidence of an unsafe condition on the roadway at the crash scene
- Take photos or videos of the crash scene
The equipment used by the driver to transport products should be in good condition. Failure to perform regular safety inspections, properly maintain the vehicle and check or repair for everyday wear and tear can lead to accidents due to defective or inadequate equipment.
Safety Tips for Avoiding Tanker Truck Accidents
Smaller vehicles must follow safety tips to avoid an accident with commercial tankers. This post will provide safety tips to avoid these accidents from happening.
The first tip is to stay alert and watch for the signs that indicate a commercial vehicle nearby. For example, tanker trucks may need assistance when driving on highways, so they use their flashers or have signs out by the side of the road (e.g., "Trucks Need Assistance").
Truckers also often drive slowly when approaching intersections or turning corners because it takes longer to make turns than cars do. In addition, trucks tend to be wider than cars, making it more difficult to see them coming up behind you until they're closer and in your lane.
- Be mindful of the blind spots of a tanker truck while driving on the road. It's a good idea to maintain a safe distance from tankers.
- Do not travel at an unsafe speed when around commercial trucks carrying hazardous cargo to avoid a crash with serious injuries like spinal cord injuries or traumatic brain injuries.
- Keep some distance between your passenger and tanker vehicles to prevent collisions, especially when the truck takes a turn or at an intersection.
Pay attention to the behavior of a tanker driver and other big trucks on the road. For example, if you notice that the vehicle has swerved around several times or the driver struggles to keep a constant speed, this may be the sign of the driver feeling drowsy, or the driver may be in an inebriated state. Try to remove your car immediately from the vicinity of the tanker vehicle in such a case.
The Result of a Tanker Truck Accident
Explosions are quite common in tanker truck accidents because such trucks often carry highly flammable and combustible cargo. Accidental cargo spills can ignite with a single spark, leading to an explosion that might also destroy the vehicles or the property around the crash site. Other consequences include:
- Fire: These accidents often lead to fire as the cargo is usually highly flammable. Some pressurized tankers use oxygen to keep cargo safe, leading to a fire in a tanker truck accident.
- Leaks and Spills: Leaks and spills are most commonly associated with tanker truck accidents. Leaks and spills can be quite dangerous because tanker trucks often carry harmful or toxic chemicals. Due to leaks and spills, numerous people are getting hurt due to toxic fumes released in tanker truck accidents. In addition, hazardous chemicals put other motorists at risk.
- Increased risk of rollover: Tankers often carry liquid cargo and are prone to sloshing or movement of liquid cargo within the tanker. Each time the liquid cargo moves, the truck's center of gravity also shifts, creating several problems.
Sloshing can significantly increase the risk of a rollover accident, especially when a truck makes a sharp turn or if the driver stops the vehicle abruptly.
Were you involved in a crash? If so, contact our tanker truck accident attorneys to provide immediate legal representation that holds the truck driver, trucking company, and their insurance companies financially accountable for medical bills and lost wages.
A tanker truck accident lawyer can pursue financial compensation while you focus on regaining your health.
Injuries From Tanker Truck Accidents
Tanker crashes can lead to severe injuries of various types. Here are some of the most common injuries that are usually associated with tanker truck accidents:
- Crushed bones and multiple fractures
- Traumatic brain injury and head injury
- Internal injuries
- Severe whiplash and soft tissue injuries
- Lacerations that can leave permanent scars
- Internal bleeding or organ damage due to the impact
- Cracked ribs
- Severe burns that require surgery or multiple grafts
- Acid or chemical burns
- Spinal cord injuries that may impair your movement or may lead to partial or complete paralysis
- Back injuries
Our reputable tanker truck accident attorneys have experience dealing with trucking companies, claims adjusters, and insurance companies across the nation. Let a tanker truck accident lawyer provide immediate legal representation in your personal injury case.
Are Tankers More Dangerous Than Other Commercial Trucks?
Any trucker who drives tanker trucks must pass a special training exam to be eligible for driving a tanker as a standard commercial driving license is not allowed to transport toxic and flammable liquids. Therefore, only a trained professional should drive trailer trucks carrying hazardous chemicals or flammable cargo.
Drivers who are untrained for driving hazardous chemical tankers or similar trucks can risk themselves and others on the road.
A collision with one of these vehicles may cause extensive damage because of the type and amount of cargo they carry. In addition, the spills and leaks that result from a tanker truck accident can affect surrounding areas for miles and take months to clean up completely.
What to Do After a Tanker Truck Accident
You must immediately call emergency services at 911 and seek medical aid after a tanker truck accident. Timely medical attention can often protect from severe injuries or help in stopping the injuries from becoming worse.
Seeking medical attention will also help create a record and prove that your injuries were due to the tanker truck accident.
What a Tanker Truck Accident Lawyer Can Do for You
A tanker truck accident is a complex affair that often involves multiple parties, and it's quite challenging to ascertain who is responsible for the damages suffered by a victim of such an accident. In many cases, the trucker, the trucking company, and other third parties may be liable for the tanker truck accident.
You may be able to get fair compensation for the damages suffered due to a truck accident with the help of an experienced tanker truck accident lawyer.
You must also exercise caution if the party's insurance company reaches out to you to discuss compensation. A quick settlement rarely benefits the injured party that has likely not had sufficient time to assess damages, the cost to become whole again, and the need for any future compensation while healing.
So, never negotiate with the insurance company without discussing the case with a trained and experienced tanker truck accident lawyer.
Hiring an Illinois Tanker Truck Explosion Lawyer
Skilled tanker truck accident lawyers can file claims and lawsuits against all responsible parties of the explosion, including truckers, trucking companies, rig manufacturers, maintenance companies, and others.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC works on behalf of victims who have been injured or suffered burns in truck explosions to recover financial compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, damages, pain, and suffering. Call the personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free case evaluation.
Our truck accident lawyers accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won't pay any fees until we resolve your case through a jury verdict or negotiated settlement.