Propane is a natural gas that is affordable and generally regarded as a safe source of fuel for businesses, homes, and more. Propane tanks are commonly used to heat offices and homes, fuel generators, and light barbecues. However, a lack of proper maintenance, installation, or handling can cause propane tanks to explode, leading to serious injuries.
Unfortunately, gas explosions occur more often than most people realize, and the results can be disastrous, such as catastrophic injuries and even fatalities. Since the majority of gas explosions are due to some form of negligence, you might be able to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering if you can prove your claim. Contact Burg Simpson to learn more about how a lawyer can help you if you’ve been injured in a gas tank explosion.
What Does a Gas Tank Explosion Lawyer Do?
Propane tank explosions can be devastating. That is why victims and their families need aggressive and thorough legal representation. It is the only way to hold the negligent party liable for the explosion and get the compensation and justice they deserve.
Some of the ways a gas tank explosion lawyer can help you are:
- Investigating the cause of the explosion
- Gathering evidence to prove negligence and liability
- Identifying all responsible parties and all potential sources of compensation
- Calculating your damages
- Filing an insurance claim
- Handling all communication with the insurance company and other parties
- Negotiating a settlement that covers the full extent of your damages
- Filing a lawsuit and representing you in court if the insurance company refuses to pay you a fair settlement
The sooner you contact a lawyer, the more time they will have to collect evidence, build a strong case, and file all necessary paperwork without missing any deadlines.
What Damages Are Recoverable After a Gas Tank Explosion?
While money itself cannot help you recover from your injuries directly, it can ensure that you get the medical treatment you need and cover other costs related to the explosion. Although each gas explosion case is unique, some forms of economic damages that are commonly recoverable include:
- Medical bills, such as emergency room fees, surgeries, prescription medications, physical rehabilitation, and others
- Anticipated medical expenses for ongoing treatments and continued care
- Lost wages for the time you were unable to work
- Diminished or lost earning capacity if your injuries leave you unable to work or force you to seek different employment
- Property damage, including damage to your personal belongings, vehicle, and home
You may also be compensated for non-economic damages. Unlike those listed above which can be documented via bills, receipts, and invoices, non-economic damages do not have a set value. Your gas explosion lawyer will use various forms of evidence to accurately calculate the cost of these damages, which can include:
- Physical pain
- Mental despair
- Emotional trauma
- Disfigurement, permanent scarring, and disability
- Reduced quality of life
- Mental conditions such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder
How Do Gas Tank Explosions Happen?
Although it is generally safe and widely used, there are numerous risks associated with propane gas. For instance, if a leak in a tank allows propane to mix with oxygen, it becomes combustible.
Some of the leading causes of gas tank explosions are:
Improper Filling or Installation
If an owner or technician fails to install the tank into the equipment properly, a leak can develop and lead to an explosion. Propane tanks can also become a danger if technicians fail to fill them with the correct amount of gas. This can put undue pressure on the tank and cause an explosion.
Lack of or Improper Maintenance
Even propane tanks used in residential settings require periodic maintenance to ensure their continued safe use. Broken components, rust, and dents can all contribute to explosions.
Some tank explosions are due to manufacturing defects. For example, manufacturers deliberately add a chemical called Mercaptan to propane gas, giving it its distinctive rotten egg smell. Since propane is naturally odorless, the addition of this chemical allows users to detect a leak before it becomes an explosion. If a tank is defective, the smell can fade considerably, making it difficult to catch a leak and avoid an explosion. Other manufacturing defects, such as incorrectly or poorly made tank components, can also result in a dangerous tank.
Issues With Temperature
Another factor that can lead to a propane tank explosion is heat. If a propane tank gets too hot, it causes pressure to build up inside the tank. If that pressure is not properly released, the tank can explode. This is called a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion.
Who Is Liable For My Gas Tank Explosion?
Who might be liable for your explosion and resulting damages will rest primarily on the technical facts of the accident. If your claim is based on a faulty product such as a water heater, you will have to prove there was a flaw in the manufacturing. If this is the case, the tank manufacturer could be liable for your injuries.
Your injury claim could also center around negligent servicing. If the employer of the workman who serviced your tank failed to train them properly in the use or installation of the equipment that caused the explosion, the company could be held liable. Trained specialists are held to a higher duty of care than the general public and can be held accountable if they fail to uphold this standard.
The court may also consider:
Depending on where the accident occurred, the court may reduce your award in proportion to your degree of fault. For example, if the court determines that you were 20% at fault for the explosion because you failed to heed warning signs that your water heater was malfunctioning, then any damages awarded to you will be reduced by 20%. If you live in one of the four pure comparative fault states and are found to have contributed to your accident, you may not receive anything at all.
The court might also find that multiple defendants were liable for the explosion. If this is the case, the court may impose joint liability. This means you can recover your total damages from one or both defendants if you choose.