What should I know about hazardous materials in accidents?

Semi trucks carry large, heavy loads that require the drivers to be extra cautious as they drive. As dangerous as normal loads are, loads that include hazardous materials are even more dangerous. When an accident involving a semi truck carrying hazardous materials occurs, those materials can cause additional problems.

What types of materials are considered hazardous?

All materials that have been deemed as posing an unreasonable threat during transportation to property, safety and health are considered hazardous materials. This designation is made by the Secretary of Transportation. Explosives, blasting agents, certain gases, flammable liquids, combustible liquids, organic peroxide, oxidizers, flammable solids, poisons, radioactive materials and corrosives are some of the materials classified as hazardous.

How do I know if hazardous materials were on the truck that hit me?

Trucks that carry hazardous materials must have clear labels that identify the shipment as hazardous. Placards and shipping logs are necessary for these shipments. If you are struck by a big rig that is carrying hazardous materials, the driver should have an endorsement for hazardous material shipping on his or her commercial driver's license.

When a big rig carrying hazardous materials crashes into you, the risks are considerable. Depending on the type of material that is being transported, you might end up suffering from long-lasting effects that aren't immediately noticeable. It is crucial that you seek medical care after the accident even if you don't think anything is amiss. You might also decide that you want to seek compensation to help you cover the costs of the care and other damages.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation: Research and Innovative Technology Administration, "Hazardous Materials Transportation Guides," accessed March 18, 2016

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