Q: Is my company liable for a spill after an accident involving our truck if it was not our driver’s fault?
A: Yes. Your company is still liable, even if your driver did not cause the accident, even if a drunk driver collides with the truck and causes a saddle tank to rupture, releasing diesel fuel.
The environmental and spill liability laws are written in a way that no matter who causes the release, the party who has care, custody and control or who owns the material at the time of loss is the one legally responsible to respond, contain and report the spill, remediate the site and safely and legally dispose of the contaminated soil and material.
You, as owner of the truck, could seek reimbursement from the drunk driver, who had a duty not to drive drunk and breached his duty, causing damages. But strict liability laws make your company responsible for the spill. It is in your best interest to respond and handle it as quickly and cost-effectively as possible because it is easier to claim over and successfully recover a small amount of money than to recover a couple million dollars if the spill is not contained.
Time is money. Even if the damages are not ultimately going to be paid by your company, you want to control those costs so you have a better chance of getting reimbursed. The state police and environmental authorities at the scene understand strict liability very well and are not going to look to the drunk driver to report, respond, remediate and contain the release. They expect the spill generator to do those things. Failure to report or to file a late report can cost you plenty. And insurance companies do not pay fines or penalties for non-compliance with environmental reporting regulations.
Our program is designed to improve your preparedness to handle spills efficiently and cost-effectively and avoid making decisions that could cost you plenty. You are always in control of which services you want Spill Center to provide and which ones your company employees will handle. You pay only for the services that you request.
Spill Center has been helping clients contain costs and limit liability related to spills for nearly 30 years. To learn how to boost your spill preparedness, I encourage you to visit the Spill Center website at www.spillcenter.com. Or call me directly at (978) 568-1922 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I believe we can help you reduce your company’s risk and improve your ability to put spill events behind you cost-effectively and professionally.