Maryland Commercial Trucking Rules/Regulations - Haz-Mat Endorsement

Some of the more serious bodily injuries that can affect a victim of a traffic-related motor vehicle collision come from ignited fuel or other materials that burn following the outbreak of a fire resulting from a car or truck wreck. Drivers and passengers of cars, trucks and motorcycles can all be exposed to the serious and sometimes life-threatening effects of open flames or scalding engine fluids that propagate or escape during and immediately after a bad highway collision. Certainly, any individual can suffer from these types of injuries in all manner of traffic collisions, but commercial vehicles can pose their own risks when it comes to burn injuries.

Although many victims of auto and trucking-related crashes become burned by the ignition of some flammable liquid or other substance, commercial motor vehicles -- in particular tanker trucks -- that carry any kind of hazardous material can be especially dangerous to occupants of passenger cars in the event of a severe highway wreck. Although many people associate burn injuries with that of heat or fire caused by burning fuel or very hot engine lubricants and coolant, the threat posed by hazardous materials (often referred to as Haz-Mat or hazmat) carried by some commercial trucks can be just as life-threatening, if not instantly fatal.

Aside from those burns resulting from high-temperature thermal exposure -- such as flames, steam and hot fluids -- there is the category of chemical-related burns, which can also negatively affect a victim of a commercial truck crash. In such cases, it is not uncommon for containers full of caustic solvents or acids to fall off a trailer during a collision, or even spill from the tanker portion of a semi tractor-trailer when ruptured in a crash.

As personal injury experts, Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, is aware of the serious and often potentially fatal effects of a hazardous materials spill associated with a traffic accident. Our skilled attorneys understand the state and federal laws that have been put in place to protect the public from serious accidents involving poorly loaded or incorrectly secured loads carried by commercial motor vehicles. Whether the negligence can be traced to the trucker himself, the transportation company that employs him, or a third party, we are prepared to assist victims in recovering damages related to traffic-related injuries related to haz-mat spills.

There is no argument that any bodily injury is never a welcome event, much less one that occurs as a result of another individual’s reckless or negligent act. For most everyone, good health is the most important asset we possess; a momentary loss of concentration or distraction on a high-speed road can change forever a victim’s future health and happiness. This is a certainty in many trucking-related beltway accidents here in Maryland or over in the District.

Our legal staff knows that being involved in any automobile, motorcycle or commercial trucking accident can change the course of a person’s life and that of his family for months or years to come. Some people never fully recover physically from the trauma of a bad commercial truck wreck. As traffic accident attorneys, we know the laws of this state pertaining to personal injury, as well as those related to auto insurance and corporate liability.

Often, when an individual is badly hurt in a thermal or acid-related burn accident, and even those involving electrical burns from high voltage/current, the potential health risks mean that treatment can be long and involved, as well as expensive. There is no reason why an innocent victim should have to bear the full burden of his or her medical and rehabilitative treatments. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, our legal staff works hard to build our clients’ personal injury cases so that the negligent party(s) can be found liable for the healthcare costs, both now and in the future.

In trucking accidents involving hazardous materials, not only is the danger from fire due to ignited gasoline or diesel fuel a very real risk, burns or other injuries resulting from exposure to toxic or other potentially deadly substances can be or an equal and sometimes greater hazard to the occupants of a passenger car or pedestrians nearby the crash site.

As auto accident experts, our legal team is trained in the area of personal injury law, as well as being knowledgeable of other laws, both federal and state, that apply to the regulation of the commercial trucking industry. Those rules and regulations establish certain standards that transportation companies, their owners and drivers must follow in order to be compliant. Violation of one or more of these laws can often be traced to one or more parties, which is the key to determining who is responsible in a trucking-related personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

When it comes to negligence-related accidents, responsibility can involve one or more parties, each of whom may be liable for some portion of the damages claimed by the victim. The typical subjects of a commercial trucking-related personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit can include the following:

  • Driver of the truck involved in the crash
  • Owner of the commercial motor vehicle (CMV)
  • Person or entity that leased the tractor and/or trailer from the owner
  • Manufacturer of the truck
  • Parts and components suppliers to the manufacturer (tire, wheels, brakes, etc.)
  • Shipping company or party that loaded the cargo into the CMV

Personal injury cases in which multiple defendants are named can end up being complicated by extended negotiation between the named parties involving whose insurance will ultimately compensate the victim(s). It would not be unusual for the manufacturer of a caustic compound or acid to argue that the company which loaded the truck did so incorrectly, leading to a spill that caused injury or death.

For the truck driver’s part, when it comes to hazardous material transport, the law requires a trucker to carry a hazardous materials endorsement on his CDL. In addition, a driver must follow the federal and state regulations pertaining to the movement of hazardous materials (Haz-Mat). Here in Maryland, the state has adopted the federal rules and regulations [Federal Hazardous Material Regulations, Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Parts 107 through 180,] and all amendments to them.

These regulations apply to a wide range of hazardous loads that may be transported, including in particular motor fuels and explosives. Tanker truck operators that carry flammable liquids are the most obvious hazardous materials haulers, not to mention one of the most dangerous when a problem occurs on the roadway. Not only must a driver comply with a myriad of limitations and restrictions on vehicle movement when transporting a Haz-Mat load, there are additional restrictions on where and when a vehicle containing dangerous materials may park or idle.

A driver who violates any of these federal or state laws may be liable for damages in cases where such violation resulted in the injury or death of another person(s). Since 2003, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has published a rule to secure the transportation of hazardous materials, including explosives, by requiring a threat assessment for every driver who applies for or renews the Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HME) on their CDL. For many years now, the TSA has required drivers carrying a HME on their CDL to provide their fingerprints when applying for or renewing their CDL.

As personal injury attorneys, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen knows that burn injuries caused by thermal, chemical, electrical or radiation effects can result in significant scarring of the skin, as well as possible disfigurement. Nerve damage in the affect areas is also a distinct risk, as is the loss of a limb due to irreparable physical damage. Quite often, burn victims can also be afflicted by severe depression as a result of their physical injuries.

As commercial trucking accident lawyers, we consider every aspect of a victim’s injuries before filing a personal injury claim. Our skilled staff looks at the physical damage caused by a high-temperature or caustic chemical burn, as well as the emotional impact of such an injury. Because these kinds of injuries, both physical and emotional, can take months or years from which to recover, our goal is to claim current and future costs of treatment and rehabilitation so as to ease the financial burden of such an unfortunate event.

The attorneys at the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen have the training and background to represent clients who have suffered severe burns and other bodily injuries resulting from a serious commercial trucking accident. Whether a truck-related crash involves hazardous materials or not, if negligence was involved, there is no reason for the victim to bear the financial burden of medical treatment alone. We encourage victims of careless driving accidents to avail themselves of a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced trial attorneys. Feel free to contact our offices at (800) 654-1949, or e-mail Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a meeting to go over your commercial trucking injury case.