Hazardous Materials Truck Accidents

Large commercial trucks are responsible for hauling and delivering the majority of goods that are transported around the country. Our Virginia truck accident law firm has written about many truck accidents that often result in catastrophic injuries and death for victims. While many of these tragedies are due to the massive size and weight of these vehicles, there are also terrible accidents that are a result of the freight that the truck was transporting. Some of the most horrific truck accidents involve trucks that transporting flammable or hazardous materials.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal agency that regulates the trucking industry. When it comes to hazardous materials, the agency has created nine different classes. Any truck transporting hazardous material is required to have a visible label that identifies the type of material it contains:

  • Class 1: Explosives
  • Class 2: Gases
  • Class 3: Flammable/combustible liquid
  • Class 4: Flammable solids, material that can spontaneously combust, and materials that are dangerous when wet
  • Class 5: Oxidizer and organic peroxide
  • Class 6: Materials that are toxic or poisonous when inhaled
  • Class 7: Radioactive material
  • Class 8: Corrosive material
  • Class 9: Miscellaneous dangerous materials

In addition to the labeling of hazardous materials, all truck drivers must have special training on how to safely transport these materials.


The purpose of the regulations set forth by the FMCSA is to reduce the risk of hazardous material truck accidents. When a trucking company and/or truck driver  violate those regulations, they place everyone on the road – and themselves – at serious risk of being killed. Unfortunately, violation of FMCSA regulations is committed by far too many trucking companies and their employees.

Some of the more common violations include failure to properly secure the cargo or loading it into the vehicle improperly. Negligent actions and behaviors by truck drivers is also a frequent cause of hazardous materials truck accidents, including:

  • Fatigued driving
  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Distracted driving
  • Following too closely to the vehicle in front of them
  • Other reckless driving behaviors

Those violations can have a devastating outcome when they result in a truck accident. The impact of a crash can cause explosions, fires, release of toxic fumes, and more. Injuries include chemical and other types of burns, poisoning, loss of hearing from the explosion, and other catastrophic injuries. Many victims die from those injuries. The ones that do survive are often left with chronic and debilitating pain, scarring, and disfigurement.

Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in any type of truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accident cases can be complex, and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. The  attorneys at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn have successfully represented many injured victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.