As fracking, otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, continues to boost the economy in areas surrounding the Marcellus Formation, the number of trucks and other heavy equipment present on local roads has significantly increased. These trucks carry hazardous chemicals used in fracking, including the process’s toxic byproducts and the materials required to maintain the sites. This uptick in trucks forces cars and other passenger vehicles to compete for position on the roadways near the fracking sites, resulting in many fracking truck driver accidents in Western PA.
Accidents involving fracking trucks may lead to devastating injuries or fatalities for vehicle occupants and pedestrians, chemical spills, and other environmental contamination, as well as extensive property damage. If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a fracking truck and suffer injuries as a result, you may be able to seek compensation from the party who is responsible with help from a Indiana fracking attorney.
Who May Be Liable in Fracking Truck Crashes?
Like many other types of trucking accidents, those involving fracking trucks are often caused by driver negligence, unbalanced loads, driver fatigue, inexperienced drivers, poorly maintained vehicles, inadequate driver training, and improperly designed roadways. However, with respect to truck driver fatigue, it may be even more dangerous for fracking truck operators. Federal law generally limits the length of time a truck driver may be on the road, but there are some more lenient exemptions that apply to truckers in the oil and gas industry, including fracking truck drivers.
The potential parties who may be liable for a truck wreck involving a fracking truck in Western PA include the truck driver, the fracking company that operates the fleet, the truck’s manufacturer, or the party responsible for maintaining the road on which the accident occurred.
Truck Driver Liability
A fracking truck driver may be held responsible for an accident if he or she is found to have acted negligently or recklessly while operating the vehicle. Some examples of driver negligence may include aggressive driving, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failure to abide by traffic laws, and using excessive speed.
Fracking Company Liability
The fracking company may be held responsible for an accident involving one of its fracking trucks, including coal and wastewater transport trucks, if its negligence can be proven, as well. Some examples of fracking company negligence may include hiring unqualified drivers, implementing policies that encourage drivers to operate their vehicles negligently, failing to properly train drivers and the employees responsible for loading the fracking trucks, and improperly maintaining the vehicles.
Truck Manufacturer Liability
The fracking truck manufacturer could be held responsible for negligence under the doctrine of products liability. Faulty manufacturing processes, defective parts, improper transport of vehicles, and failure to advise on necessary maintenance are all instances in which a fracking truck manufacturer could be liable. In these scenarios, it is imperative that the vehicle and component parts be preserved for inspection, which requires that an attorney promptly notify all applicable owners and insurance carriers so that these items can be preserved immediately.
Road Condition Liability
The municipality or other party responsible for maintaining the roads on which a fracking truck crash occurred may be responsible for the accident, as well. Common examples of liability relating to the actual roadway include poorly maintained roads, improper signage, and insufficient lane or shoulder width.
Proving Liability for Fracking Truck Wreck Damages
The person injured in a fracking truck crash in the area may file a claim against the party responsible for the accident. However, to collect compensation, he or she must be able to prove the four elements of a personal injury claim:
- A party had a duty to the claimant
- The party breached that duty
- The breach of duty resulted in the accident
- The accident caused injuries to the claimant
Additionally, if it is found that the claimant played any role in causing the accident, the compensation to which he or she may be entitled could be reduced or precluded entirely.
Seek Legal Counsel After a Western PA Fracking Truck Crash
Determining who may be responsible for an accident involving a fracking truck driver in Western PA can be complicated, given the number of parties that may play a role. If you suffer from injuries following a crash, an attorney at Marcus & Mack could help you determine the strength of your claim and the parties against whom you should seek recovery. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.