According to a report in the online publication, Daytona Beach News-Journal, from Thursday, December 30 to Friday, December 31, 2011, Interstate 95 in Port Orange, Florida was closed for roughly 21 hours. A four-vehicle accident, which claimed the life of one driver and injured five others, was the cause of the shutdown of the state’s major highway. Because of the crash, methyl bromide, a toxic chemical, was released into the air and residents in nearby neighborhoods and surrounding areas were warned of potentially hazardous fumes.
Logger Loses Control
The driver of a logging truck lost control of his vehicle and overturned, subsequently releasing his load of logs onto the highway and starting a chain reaction. A 16-year-old female driver smashed her vehicle into the logs head-on, and a rig carrying two trailers of methyl bromide hit the logging truck. The driver of the rig died in the crash.
After the collision, the chemical-carrying trailers burst into flames, catching the logging truck on fire in the process. Some of the canisters hauled on the trailers ruptured with such loud force that residents reported hearing the explosion from miles away. Because of the explosion, methyl bromide, an extremely hazardous toxic chemical that poses significant, and sometimes fatal, health problems, was released. Although officials did not believe the accident merited an evacuation, residents were warned to stay inside their homes. A United States Postal Service vehicle was also involved in the accident.
Consequences: Everyone May Pay
Route I-95 suffered severe damage from the fire’s heat. The preliminary estimate for repairs exceeds $92,000, according to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). However, because the estimate is based on crude, initial observations, the FDOT will not have an exact figure until a formal evaluation is performed. Factors to take into consideration include costs of materials, time and labor — numbers the FDOT will not have until invoices are presented. The state claims it has a budget set aside to handle the costs of repairing highways in these types of emergencies. However, if the costs of repairs are higher than the state anticipates, part of the responsibility of fixing the highway will fall on residents.
While the chemical truck operator died at the scene, five other people, including the 16-year-old driver and her two passengers, sustained minor injuries. Online news source, FloridayToday.com indicated that four of the five received transportation to Daytona Beach where they were admitted at the Halifax Health Medical Center. While they were listed in stable condition, it is sometimes unclear the effect a vehicle accident will have on an individual’s body and lifestyle until weeks, or even months, after the incident occurs, especially when toxic chemicals are involved. These individuals, although lucky to be alive, may suffer from back, neck or extremity pain later on down the road and may need to seek compensation for medical bills or lost wages due to an inability to work.
If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident or displaced from your home due to the release of toxic chemicals after an accident, contact our attorneys immediately. Your window of opportunity is limited, so get in touch with our office to find out how you can file a claim. You may be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, hospital care, ambulance services, lost wages, and pain and suffering. We will work with you to make sure you get the help you deserve.