Hazardous Materials Spilled After Crash in Peoria

More than 55 gallons of diesel fuel spilled onto a roadway during a recent accident in Peoria, Arizona, spreading the hazardous material throughout the intersection at about 4 a.m. in the morning. Because diesel fuel has the ability to dissolve asphalt, city officials took immediate plans to replace the section of roadway impacted by the spill.

Municipal Tort Liability in Arizona

Any driver impacted by the spill has a legal claim against the city of Peoria. If city officials fail to block the roadway or provide immediate repairs, then any drivers who are subsequently injured would also have a claim against the city.The Arizona Tort Claims Act provides the city of Peoria with limited immunity against tort claims in the event of an accident. Specifically, the Act protects government employees from tort liability if they are engaged in legislative or administrative functions at the time of the event, unless they were grossly negligent or intended to cause injury to others.

Consideration of the Safety of Future Drivers

If the city had failed to take immediate action to replace the roadway,  any drivers who suffered a subsequent injury may argue that the city was grossly negligent because the city knew about the accident but failed to take action to repair the roadway.

Asserting a Claim Against a Municipality

There are dozens of types of cases for which a city may be liable for a resident’s injuries. A city owes a duty of care to its residents, which encompasses maintaining safe public roadways and sidewalks. For example, if a city fails to repair a tree that has actively falling branches, a cyclist, driver, or runner who is injured by a falling branch may have a claim against the city. A person who wishes to assert a claim against a city must show that the city owed a duty of care to the resident, that the city breached this duty, that the breach was a direct cause of the injury, and that the person suffered measurable injury as a result.