Every day, 1.2 million shipments of hazardous materials are transported across the country by railway, airplanes, barges and trucks. While most of these shipments reach their destination without incident, hazmat spills are costly and dangerous. Furthermore, for the past 10 years, highway accidents involving hazardous materials have steadily increased in Michigan and other Midwest states, creating serious consequences for truck drivers, motorists and nearby residents.
Here is an overview of hazmat-related commercial truck accidents and how to protect your rights if you are injured in a crash.
“Hazmat” is an industry abbreviation for hazardous materials, defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as all substances “capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce.” In other words, substances that are flammable, poisonous or otherwise likely to cause serious harm if misused or improperly released into the environment are considered hazmat.
To prevent dangerous mishaps, there are specific rules for classifying, packaging, labeling, handling and storing these materials as they are moved from one destination to another.
Hazardous materials can be gases, liquids or solids. The Department of Transportation classifies hazmat materials into nine categories:
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Accidents involving vehicles transporting hazardous substances across the Midwest have been rising steadily since 2013, according to a report by USA TODAY. Researchers analyzed 10 years of data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration about the transportation of hazardous substances across five Midwest states: Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
Here are the significant points revealed in the study:
Unlike most automobile crashes, accidents involving hazardous materials often have widespread and long-lasting consequences. Although trains carry larger quantities of these substances, all the hazmat-related fatalities over the last decade involved commercial trucks.
Here is some of the collateral damage that can result from a hazmat accident:
These cases are typically more complex than those entailing only passenger cars. Determining liability and receiving compensation for a commercial truck accident is challenging because multiple parties are often involved. In addition to the driver, a lawsuit may include the individual truck owner, the trucking company or the truck manufacturer. And, if the accident was caused by faulty maintenance or equipment, the mechanic or parts manufacturer may also be liable.
Therefore, it is wise to consult an experienced commercial truck accident lawyer to ensure the best financial outcome for you and your family.
Many everyday household products contain hazardous materials. While it is legal to store these items and transport them in your own vehicle, this should be done with extreme care. In general, if a label says “warning,” “danger,” “corrosive,” “irritant,” “toxic,” “caution” or “flammable,” the item is considered hazardous and should be treated accordingly.
Here are some examples of household hazardous waste (HHW):
In addition, these products must be disposed of according to local regulations. Some municipalities schedule hazmat collection days throughout the year. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has more information about hazmat storage and disposal, including where to find drop-off locations.
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If you or a loved one is injured in a Michigan truck accident, we can help. Our experienced lawyers have the skills, knowledge and resources to win the compensation you and your family deserve.
Semi-truck accident law is complicated, but finding the right Michigan commercial truck accident attorney is simple.
Don’t let the legal clock run out. Start your case today by clicking on the link below or calling 1-800-CALL-SAM for a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our legal team.
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