An accident between a car and a semi truck injured both drivers and narrowly missed causing a serious toxic spill, the Bangor Daily News reported June 29. According to the Daily News, a Montville man pulled his Lincoln Town Car into the path of the tractor-trailer. The truck was pulling a tanker full of sodium hydroxide — a chemical most people know as lye or caustic soda. Both the driver of the Lincoln, 28-year-old William Mathieson, and the trucker, 51-year-old Raymond Pottle of Carmel, were taken to the hospital. The truck rolled over near Half Moon Stream, but a hazmat crew was able to prevent the lye from spilling into the water.
According to the article, Pottle’s truck hit Mathieson’s car on the driver’s side door, causing head injuries and internal injuries to Mathieson. Authorities called a LifeFlight helicopter for Mathieson, but the foggy weather prevented it from taking off, so he was taken to Waldo County General Hospital and then to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Pottle, who said his ribs hurt, was also taken to Waldo County General Hospital. Meanwhile, crews were working to keep the load of 8,000 gallons of lye, originally intended for a paper mill, from spilling out of the tanker. The tanker had not been ruptured, and authorities were able to keep it that way until another tanker arrived. The accident closed Route 137 for four hours.
While the injuries in this accident could be quite serious and should not be overlooked, as a Bangor, Maine semi truck accident lawyer, I’d like to discuss the lye spill as well. Lye has household uses, most commonly as a drain cleaner, in laundry and, until recent decades, as a hair relaxer. However, if you keep lye around the house, you probably know that it’s dangerous — it burns human flesh on contact. That alone would be enough to make a lye spill into a stream an environmental hazard. But lye can also explode when dissolved and can produce volatile gases when it comes into contact with certain common metals. Without the quick action of the hazmat team, the lives of everyone nearby — and everything that uses the stream as a water supply — could have been in serious danger.
Judging solely by the information in this article, it doesn’t look like the truck driver is to blame for this accident. However, if investigators conclude that the trucker’s bad driving, defects in the tank or careless loading of the tanker was responsible for the accident, the truck driver, his trucking company or both could be legally liable for all of the injuries and costs that resulted. Just like ordinary drivers, truckers are legally responsible for making good decisions on the road, and responsible for the results when they fail to take reasonable care. Victims of those bad decisions can enforce their rights and collect financial compensation with a Maine tractor-trailer accident lawsuit.
Based in Portland and Bangor, the law firm of Peter Thompson & Associates represents clients throughout Maine who have been seriously injured by another person’s wrongdoing. That includes victims of all types of traffic accidents, as well as accidents on the job, medical malpractice, defective products and injuries on someone else’s property. Our Portland, Maine commercial truck accident attorneys understand that a serious accident can be physically, financially and emotionally devastating, which is why we fight hard to get our clients the best possible financial settlement or verdict. We consider it our job to take care of insurance companies and other bureaucratic details, so clients can focus on their personal recovery.
If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt in an accident with a careless driver of a large commercial truck, you have rights. To learn more about your rights and your options, please contact us online or call us toll-free at 1-800-804-2004.