While truck accidents can be especially dangerous, those involving hazardous materials can be even more so.

Following the season’s first heavy snow in the Worcester area, a truck’s fuel tank ruptured which required an extensive cleanup by hazardous materials crews. The truck accident sent one injured person to the hospital. Authorities are continuing to investigate the accident.

Because of the size disparity between semi trucks and passenger vehicles sharing the roadway, semi truck accidents are typically more catastrophic. Resulting injuries can be more severe, depending on the type of load or freight the truck is carrying. Serious injuries also can result when an accident occurs between a passenger vehicle and a semi truck, or another type of large truck, carrying hazardous materials.

In some limited circumstances, the shipper of the hazardous materials can be legally responsible if injuries resulted from the type of material that was being shipped. This is especially true if the shipper failed to advise the trucking company or truck driver of the hazardous nature of the cargo.

There may be many potential defendants who may be financially responsible when a person has suffered serious injuries from a truck accident. A negligent truck driver may bear responsibility for injuries that result from the driver’s negligence; however, insurance companies are often also involved in claims for compensation for personal injuries arising from accidents. Truck companies and employers can also be liable according to legal doctrine. This principle provides that a party may recover from the employer if he or she can show that the company or employer exercised control over the employee and that the accident occurred while the employee was acting within the scope of the employee’s employment. If the truck driver was an independent contractor, the question of the company’s liability will be determined by the amount of control the company exercised over the independent contractor.

There are many factors to consider when seriously injured in a truck accident. These considerations may grow if the accident also involved hazardous materials.

Source: Telegram and Gazette, “Snow Statement,” Steven H. Foskett Jr. and Bill Fortier, Nov. 28, 2012