Over 100 Years of Combined Experience Representing Individuals and Workers Injured in Natural Gas Explosions and Propane Gas Explosions
Watch the video below to hear about one client's experience with our law firm. You can also view the case report.
Causes of Propane Gas ExplosionsNatural and propane gases are both powerful, odorless fuels which are used for a number of purposes, including home heating, water heating, cooking and barbecue grills. These gases must be handled with care according to industry safety regulations.
Propane is typically delivered in pressurized tanks. As a gas, it is much heavier than air and will pool along the floor and in low areas. When a leak occurs, propane is highly flammable and can be easily ignited by fire, smoking materials, electric sparks or static electricity. Because it is odorless, it uses a chemical additive, ethyl mercaptan, which emits a “rotten eggs” odor when there is a leak, warning those in the area to evacuate.
Propane gas explosions can occur anywhere propane is improperly handled, including private homes, commercial buildings, and construction sites. Many propane explosions happen on construction sites. They can occur when piping is not tightened, when there is a leak, when a company fails to follow safety regulations or when there is a defect with the chemical additive.
In some cases, victims have no warning before a propane explosion because they never smell the chemical odorant. The odorant may never have been added or may have lost its scent, a condition known as “odorant fade.” With propane gas, odorant fade can result when a delivery company does not properly fill the tank to capacity and when a new propane tank is not properly treated, leaving it with moisture and rust.
Natural Gas Explosions
Natural gas, which primarily consists of methane, is delivered to homes and businesses through underground gas lines. Leaks leading to explosions can occur when gas appliances, heating systems, and water heaters break. But more often, they occur when aging underground pipelines are not maintained or are struck by construction work.
Like propane, natural gas uses a chemical odorant as a safety precaution to assist in the detection of leaks. Odorant fade – when gas loses the additive’s scent – can also occur in natural gas.
With natural gas, odorant fade can occur during periods of low gas flow through the pipeline. When new pipes are not properly conditioned, a process called adsorption can also occur and strip the gas of its odor.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Propane and Natural Gas Explosions
Numerous parties may be liable for explosions, including the gas supplier, tank manufacturer, delivery company and/or contractors such as heating and air conditioning companies. Breakstone, White & Gluck is highly experienced in investigating explosions resulting in injury and death. Our attorneys are here to immediately preserve evidence and promptly speak to witnesses. We need to act now because a court order may be necessary to preserve evidence. Another reason is Massachusetts has a Statute of Limitations which restricts how long you have to file a claim.
Damages in Explosion Cases
Gas explosions often result in serious injuries, and wrongful death. If an individual survives, he or she may suffer severe burns, broken bones and lifelong physical and emotional injuries. A victim may suffer a permanent disability, then be unable to work or enjoy favorite activities. Our attorneys can advise you on your rights to seek damages, including medical bills, lost earnings and pain and suffering.
A spouse may have standing to pursue a claim for loss of consortium for loss of companionship and other changes in the relationship. If a person has been killed by an explosion caused by someone else's negligence, family members may entitled to pursue a wrongful death claim, seeking punitive damages.