Trucks that carry chemicals and gases are the most dangerous in auto accidents. Even if you survive without injury in such an accident, there is the very big problem of leaks from the truck and possibly explosions. Worst of all are chemical vapors, which are not only potentially lethal, but can also cause brain damage and nerve damage. If you are in an accident with such a truck and you do not lose consciousness during the accident, remember to do all of the following.
Turn Your Vehicle Off
Everything from the heat of your engine to open air conditioning vents can make your accident in this particular situation much worse. Heat can ignite the gas or chemicals coming from the truck. Air conditioning in a vehicle takes air from outside, cools it, and sends it into the car. If the fumes or gas from outside move into your car via the air conditioning system, you have a lot more to worry about than that air bag in your face. For safety on all fronts, turn your vehicle off as soon as possible.
Roll up Car Windows and Close Sun/Moon Roofs
You want to keep toxic fumes out of the vehicle until a HAZMAT team and the police arrive. Only attempt to escape the vehicle and flee a safe distance if the chemical truck is on fire. To keep fumes out, make sure all windows are rolled up and the sun/moon roof is closed (if applicable).
Find a Way to Cover Your Mouth and Nose
If at all possible, find a way to cover your nose and mouth to prevent inhaling any of the fumes or gases the chemical truck is leaking. The less you breathe in, the better. Use a scarf, roll up the neck on your turtleneck shirt, etc. Do whatever it takes to keep fumes and unknown gases out of your body.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention and Speak to an Auto Accident Lawyer
There is no doubt an ambulance will arrive on the heels of a HAZMAT team. Make sure you receive immediate medical attention. Then seek out an auto accident attorney. The attorney can evaluate your case to determine if you should sue, how much you should sue for, and why you should sue. Just bear in mind that if any part of the accident was your fault, you may be stuck. However, if the accident was clearly the fault of the chemical truck driver, you can sue for medical bills and any long-term effects of the chemical that was in that truck.