Driving next to semi trucks that are loaded down with hazardous materials can be unnerving for any driver. Recently, the worst fears of many drivers became a reality when two trucks collided on a Texas highway, causing a fiery explosion that killed one driver and injured another. In addition, stretches of Interstate 35 needed to be shut down for extended periods.
Truck accidents, such as this incident, often end in serious injury and, unfortunately, fatalities. This accident occurred when one 18-wheeler slowed down because a highway lane was closed. A second semi-truck rear-ended the truck that slowed down and erupted in flames.
Emergency responders declared the second truck driver dead on the scene of the accident. Because a truck was loaded with aluminum engine rods, the heat of the fire intensified to the point that the highway itself was severely damaged and required repaving.
This tragedy is one example of the serious consequences that can result from 18-wheeler accidents. The risk of colliding with trucks is more serious for drivers than colliding with a passenger vehicle. In this case, however, the risk was compounded by the fact that one of the vehicles was carrying dangerous materials.
Another difference between passenger vehicle accidents and commercial vehicle accidents involves the parties who may be held liable. In a commercial truck case, the trucking company itself may be liable under a legal theory known as respondeat superior. In addition, especially in the case of accidents involving hazardous or heavy loads, the company and driver may be liable if they failed to exercise caution in ensuring that the loads were safe for travel.
Because the consequences of commercial truck accidents are often very serious, victims of these accidents often consider seeking compensation. If the truck driver is negligent, meaning he or she failed to exercise reasonable care and caused injuries to another person on the road, the injured party can often recover damages for his or her medical care, pain and suffering, lost wages and future medical needs.
Determining who may be responsible for payment is more complex when the accident involves a commercial truck rather than a passenger vehicle. Therefore, victims may benefit from gaining a full understanding of their legal rights and responsibilities in the wake of the incident.
Source: KBTX News, "One Driver Dead, Another Injured After Fiery Crash on I-35 near Waco," Oct. 18, 2012