Cargo Spills and Hazardous Materials:
A Comprehensive Guide

The Dressie Law Firm can help you understand the legal regulations surrounding cargo and hazardous materials, establishing liability, and claiming compensation. Call us to schedule a free consultation today.

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Understanding Cargo and Hazardous Materials Spills

Trucks carry a serious risk to other road users, the most significant of which is hazardous materials cargo spill, also known as hazmat spills. As the name suggests, hazardous materials spills happen as a result of a traffic accident involving a truck transporting hazardous materials. Cargo spills can make an already dangerous and deadly trucking accident even worse. They can also lead to secondary accidents.

Hazardous spills are a serious safety concern as they threaten public safety and the environment. If you or a loved one has been involved in a cargo spill truck accident, you will agree that the accidents are usually very disastrous.

As such, it’s only fair for you or your loved one to get the compensation you deserve. However, these cases are often complicated. The truck carrier, driver, shipping companies, cargo owners, and regulators may share legal obligations. Safety and environmental restrictions also may complicate matters.

To ensure you receive justice and compensation, you may need an experienced Atlanta truck accident attorney. Our experienced and award-winning attorneys at Dressie Law Firm are here for you. Our law firm will help you understand your rights, establish liability, and seek compensation.

    Trucking Accidents and Hazardous Materials Spills

    Truck accidents can result in cargo and hazardous substance spills due to the significant impact and force involved in these accidents. When a truck collides with another vehicle or object, the cargo can shift or become dislodged.

    Improperly secured cargo is especially vulnerable, and even routine maneuvers can lead to cargo and chemical spill. In cases where trucks transport hazardous materials, accidents can result in the release of toxic, flammable, or dangerous substances, posing severe risks.

    These spills have profound effects on other road users. They create immediate safety hazards, as spilled cargo can cause additional accidents and physical harm. Accidents involving hazardous materials can lead to chemical exposure, fires, or explosions, endangering the health and lives of those nearby.

    Hazardous waste in sufficient quantities can have dire environmental consequences, as it can contaminate soil and waterways, impacting ecosystems and communities for an extended period.

    What are Hazardous Materials?

    A hazardous material is a substance that, when not properly handled, can pose risks to human health, safety, property, and the environment. These materials are classified based on their characteristics and potential hazards during transportation and storage.

    Common examples of hazardous materials include:

    • Explosives

    • Gases

    • Flammable/combustible liquid

    • Oxidizer and organic peroxide

    • Poisonous materials (toxic) and Poison Inhalation Hazard

    • Flammable solid, spontaneously combustible, and dangerous when wet

    • Radioactive materials

    • Corrosive material

    Legal Aspects of Cargo Spills

    Hazardous materials are defined and regulated by multiple agencies in the United States:

    These agencies work together to regulate hazardous materials transportation in the United States. HAZMAT drivers and companies must pass the regulations and requirements written test and the Federal Security Threat Assessment training. This test covers hazardous material management and accident response, including mandatory and timely incident reporting.

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented stringent cargo securing rules and regulations to prevent hazmat shipping spills. Some jurisdictions may have additional regulations, but most states refer to the FMCSA Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securing.

    Determining Liability

    Determining liability in hazmat carrier crashes can be complicated because multiple parties may be accountable for your injuries in many of these accidents. The following are some possible parties that may be accountable.

    1. Truck Driver: If the driver’s negligence, such as improper cargo loading or reckless driving, directly caused the spill, they can be held liable.
    2. Trucking Company: The trucking company may be held responsible if they were negligent in hiring, training, or supervising the driver or failed to ensure proper cargo securement and maintenance of the vehicle.
    3. Cargo Loaders: Those responsible for loading and securing the cargo may be liable if their actions directly contributed to the spill.
    4. Manufacturers: In cases where the spill resulted from a defect in the truck or its components, the manufacturers of the truck, trailer, or cargo containers could be held accountable.
    5. Shippers and Consignees: Those who contracted for the transportation of the cargo may share responsibility if they failed to provide accurate information about the cargo or loading requirements.

    The specific circumstances of the accident, including the cause of the spill and applicable state and federal regulations, will determine which parties bear liability for the incident.

    What to Handle a Cargo Spill Trucking Accident

    Hazardous material spills can exacerbate the aftermath of the initial collision. They can also create slippery surfaces or impair drivers’ vision, which can cause secondary accidents and injuries.

    If you have been involved in a trucking accident that resulted in or from hazardous chemical spills, you can seek compensation for your damages. Here’s how you can do that:

    • Document and gather evidence:

    If you managed to take any pictures or videos of the accidents, they can be used as evidence for your claim. If you have a dashboard camera, make sure you retrieve any footage of the accidents and keep it. It’s also crucial to document your injuries and property damage and obtain official bills, medical records, doctors’ opinions, etc.

    • Contact a trucking accident attorney:

    Because trucking accidents often cause severe and catastrophic damage, you may not have the physical or mental strength to pursue your claim alone. You could also use the help and advice of a professional. An attorney is more equipped to investigate the accident, determine liability, collect the necessary evidence, and calculate your damages. They can handle your claim from start to finish while you recover.

    • File your claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company

    Georgia is an at-fault state. Therefore, whoever is at fault for the accident is liable for the victim’s injuries and damages. Your attorney will file your claim with the liable party’s insurance company, including all supporting documents and stating your desired settlement amount. The insurance company’s insurer will investigate the accident, determine liability, and either accept or deny your claim. They may also make a counteroffer.

    • Go to court

    If your insurance claim was denied or unsatisfactory, or you wish to sue the liable party directly, you can file a personal injury complaint. Your lawyer will handle this process for you and advise you on the best course of action.

    Dressie Law Firm Is Here for You

    Have you or your loved one suffered injuries from a truck accident involving cargo spills and hazardous materials? Contact Dressie Law Firm now. We are the go-to personal injury law firm for trucking accidents victims in Atlanta.

    You can’t go wrong with a team of 24 dedicated personal injury professionals on your side. Call us to schedule a free consultation today.

    The Dressie Law Firm Can Help You

    If you or a loved one is a victim of a reckless or negligent driver, we want you to know that the law is on your side and so is the Dressie Law Firm.

    Contact us today to schedule your free consultation!