Omaha Tanker Truck Accident Lawyer
The expansion of fracking in the Midwest and developments in ethanol production across Nebraska has led to an increase in tanker trucks on our roadways. While these high-powered vehicles are paramount to transporting gas, oil, ethanol, and other vital materials across our state, they can also result in widespread damage if involve in a crash. The material may be flammable, or even toxic, and can lead to long-lasting injuries for anyone involved.
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If you or a loved one were injured by a negligent tanker truck driver, do not hesitate to contact the Omaha tanker truck accident attorney at Bottlinger Law L.L.C. Our firm can evaluate your accident and injuries to determine if you have a case and who is liable for damages. Call us at (402) 505-8234 to schedule a free consultation.
Semi-trucks and big-rigs are complex vehicles that require not only consistent care and maintenance but also extensive experience to drive properly. Improperly turning, speeding, braking too quickly or too late, and simply being distracted can lead to a variety of deadly collisions, especially on a major highway like I-80.
In turn, tanker trucks have all the risks of a major trucking crashes, but also have unique risks depending on the material being transported. Traditionally, you would expect a tanker to be transporting gasoline or diesel fuel. However, the state of Nebraska, as well as our neighbors in Iowa, have made major advancements in ethanol production as an alternative fuel source. In fact, Nebraska is home to 25 ethanol plants, which produce up to 2.5 billion gallons. Beyond fuel sources, tanker trucks also carry a variety of toxic and flammable chemicals.
Tanker trucks traveling through Nebraska often transport:
- Diesel fuel
- Compressed oxygen
- Industrial chemicals
- Viral cultures
- Other flammable or toxic materials
Not all tanker trucks are transporting hazardous materials, and even large gas trucks are not always carrying flammable or toxic gas. However, depending on the road conditions, weather, and temperature during the crash, some industrial chemicals can become flammable or poisonous. And even if the material is not dangerous, it can add a significant amount of weight to the truck, increasing the force of a collision.
Tanker truck crashes can lead to:
- Spills from damaged containers
- Rollovers due to “sloshing” of the material in the tank
- Chemical burns from corrosive or flammable materials
- Explosions or fires
- Toxic exposure, leading to damage to the lungs, skin, or eyes
- Exposure to viral or bacterial samples
Spills are not only a major risk for drivers but also neighboring farms and water systems. Nebraska is the center of America’s heartland and any disruption to our state’s water quality can severely impact the health and safety of farm workers, in addition to the health of local crops and cattle. That is why it is paramount that these materials be transported safely and responsibly. Sadly, that is not always the case.
Because of how dangerous a tanker truck spill can be, the federal government has instigated strict regulations about hazardous materials and chemicals to minimize the risk of a crash. This includes multiple inspections to ensure all vehicles are up to standard, that the cargo tanks are free of any cracks, and that the vehicles are not overloaded. However, human error runs through every process, and it is not uncommon for an inspection or repair to miss a critical detail.
When reviewing a tanker truck collision, your attorney may determine that several parties are liable for your injuries, including:
Driver Error: While tanker trucks are expected to pass through multiple inspections, 78% of rollovers are caused by driver error, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This is especially dangerous for tanker trucks, which can easily rollover if the driver swerves from side-to-side. That is why drivers are expected to maintain a steady hand when driving these large vehicles. Substance abuse, distracted driving, or fatigue can all lead to a serious tanker truck collision.
Negligent Trucking Companies: Trucking companies operate on strict routes, schedules, and deadlines to maintain their profit margins. Despite federal regulations, some may push their drivers and vehicles to their limits, either by overloading a truck or pressuring a driver to work extensive hours, which can lead to fatigue. If a trucking company violated regulations when transporting hazardous materials, they could be found liable for your injuries.
Negligent Industrial Companies: In addition to the driver and trucking company overseeing the route, the company who manufacturers or owns the material being transported can be at fault for a tanker crash. These companies’ profits are also reliant on strict trucking schedules and may be tempted to overload a vehicle or rush an inspection to get it the truck back on the road as quickly as possible.
Poor Maintenance: An important step in the inspection process is identifying mechanical errors and repairing them as soon as possible. If a truck’s hitch is misaligned or the cargo tank is damaged, the driver may lose control of the vehicle, despite following all the rules of the road. In these situations, the party in charge of repairing the vehicle can be held liable for a collision or spill.
Because of the level of oversight involved in tanker trucks, these crashes are far more complicated that your standard vehicle collision. You will need to review every piece of data, from the truck’s black box to maintenance reports, to determine if you have a case—and if you can prove negligence occurred. To do that, you need the experience, knowledge, and resources of a skilled attorney.
Tanker truck crashes are some of the most devastating events that can occur on Nebraska’s roadways. Victims are often left with traumatic injuries, from brain damage to chemical burns. Even if the wreck only involved the tanker truck, nearby farms may become exposed to toxic chemicals.
Bottom line, if you suffered an injury in a tanker truck accident that was not your fault, reach out to Bottlinger Law, L.L.C. Our Omaha truck accident attorney has a thorough understanding of Nebraska and Iowa negligence laws, in addition to the devastation a local farm can suffer from a chemical spill, and can launch an in-depth investigation into your case. Call us at (402) 505-8234 to learn what options are available to you after a truck crash.
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