Gas explosions occur often when a gas leak comes into contact with an ignition source, which could be an open flame, static electricity, a spark, or other similar sources. Gas leaks can occur in your own home, in a workplace, or even in a public area where gas may be present. This ignition source lights up the gas to cause a combustion reaction and can cause very, very serious damage and injuries to the people in the vicinity.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), there were 158 natural-gas distribution pipeline incidents reported that killed 10 people and injured 50 people. This is a danger that can happen in many settings, and many times they can be prevented. In these cases, we are here to help you.
At Mike Agruss Law, we have helped thousands of clients to seek justice and compensation for personal injuries, and you won’t owe us a penny for our services unless we win your case. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a gas explosion, contact our office today for a free consultation.
Sources of Gas Explosions
Natural gas leaks are one component of these explosions along with an ignition source. These natural gas leaks commonly consist of methane, propane, and butane since they are often used for heating purposes. Most commonly, gas explosions take place in either an industrial or agricultural workplace setting or in a residential setting – both of which use plenty of natural gases or other hazardous substances. There are a few common sources of these natural gas explosions depending on the setting in which they occur, however, these are some of their more common causes and sources:
- Leaking pipes or valves in gas ovens – This would result in the textbook gas leak in a residential home that can come into contact with a spark or flame. This accident can cause immense property damage and injuries.
- Improper use or handling of a gas appliance – This would be a case of negligence since those who are given access to use and handle these appliances must be trained to properly do so.
- Improper installation of a gas appliance – This would also be a case of negligence since the individual installing the appliance must do so in a safe manner, especially given a product that carries significant risk if improperly installed.
- Defective gas tanks in vehicles – A gas tank could be defective in its design or the way that it was manufactured. A defect could occur in many other gas appliances, which all qualify as product liability cases.
- Improper venting of propane tanks – There is a certain way to position a propane tank in order to avoid a hazardous leak from the tank.
- Failure to regularly and properly inspect and maintain gas appliance – Property owners are responsible for conducting or arranging regular inspections of their appliances in order to ensure their safety. When they fail to do so, it could be a premises liability case.
- Violations of standards or safe practices – There are certain procedures and rules, which we will discuss further, in place to prevent these explosions. If they are not followed, a gas explosion could be very possible.
Guidelines and Rules Covering Gas Explosions
Within the industries that face the risk of a gas leak or explosion at any time, there are rules and standards regarding the safety and procedures to handle these gases. Installing, handling, using, and maintaining the safety of gas products and equipment storing gas is a very delicate practice, especially in the workplace setting. These accidents often occur in agricultural or industrial workplaces since natural gases may be frequently handled here compared to other places.
Because of the risks, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has provided some standards and guidelines regarding workplace safety which includes gas equipment. They administered the Occupational Safety and Health Act which requires that employers keep their workplaces “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.” If you believe that your employer’s negligence caused this accident, they could be liable for your damages as they violated this federal standard of safety in the workplace. We will discuss liability further below. There are many more standards that get more specific regarding gas explosions, but at its most basic level, employees must be able to feel safe coming to work every day. If they do not, their employer is not upholding their duty to keep their workers safe.
Who Is Liable?
Liability in gas explosion cases depends on negligence. When you are proving that someone is negligent, you should be able to prove its four essential components. First, you must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care. Then, you must prove that that duty of care was breached, which can be shown by the accident itself being caused by the person. Then, you must prove that their actions or inactions were the direct and actual cause of the accident that caused your injury. Lastly, you must be able to prove that you did suffer actual damages and injuries which can be proven through medical records and bills, witness testimony, and more. Generally, you should be able to provide evidence that it was in fact this accident that caused your damages. Depending on your accident, there are many possible at-fault parties to take action against.
It is also important to note that the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Illinois is two years. This means that you must file your injury claim within two years of the date of the accident in order for it to be accepted and considered valid.
In these cases, the liable party could be your coworker, employer, property owner, or a product manufacturer. Your coworker could be liable if they were the direct cause of the accident by some human error that led to the explosion. They may have mishandled a gas tank in an industrial setting or a fellow line cook may have left a stove on to eventually cause the explosion. Your employer may be liable if they failed to properly train you to handle various gases or their equipment safely or prepare you with the proper safety gear. This could be violating OSHA standards in doing so.
The property owner could be liable in a premises liability case if they failed to inspect the source of the explosion and essentially let it happen due to their negligence. Premises liability cases apply when there was a hazardous condition on any type of property that caused your injuries. If the hazardous condition was not warned about or marked with a warning to others, they could be liable for the damages.
A product’s manufacturer, distributor, or retailer could be liable in a product liability case if a defect in the product caused it to malfunction and then cause the explosion. Product liability cases are based on the idea that any and all actors in the chain of distribution of a product can be deemed liable for a defective product released to the public. In this case, the manufacturer, distributor, and/or retailer can be found liable for your damages for selling a defective gas appliance. This can mean defective in its manufacturing, in its design, or that it failed to warn of its clear hazards on the product.
Your attorneys will assist you in determining the liable party, of course. While our attorneys will navigate you through this process following such a traumatic event, there are some things that you can do to make the process easier for you. First, you should always seek medical attention after such an accident to ensure that you are treated for your injuries and prevent further damage to yourself. Then, try to take pictures of the site of the accident and any injuries that you have. Save any records or documents having to do with the event. Then, we will help you handle the insurance companies, gathering other necessary evidence, and anything else deemed necessary to ensure that you win your case.
Damages That Can Be Recovered
A gas explosion could result in severe burn injuries, shrapnel injuries, crushing injuries, often hearing damage, and much more depending on the environment in which it occurred. The medical bills for treating yourself after this event are not cheap. That is why we are here to help you. After a successful injury claim, you can receive monetary compensation for the damages that you had to endure from this explosion. Some damages that you can recover after a gas explosion include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Lost wages
- Future loss of earnings
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of reputation
- Loss of consortium
If you or a loved one has been injured due to a gas explosion, contact our office today for a free consultation.