Propane Explosions in BusinessesLast updated on: April 9, 2015
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Propane is a flammable, colorless, odorless gas that has many industrial and residential uses. Propane explosions in businesses are often caused by different factors than home propane explosions, because propane is used in different ways in these two venues.
The assistance of a skilled attorney is essential in helping you to resolve any legal claims that may arise out of a propane explosion.
Causes of Propane Explosions
Breached pipes: A breached pipe can cause a propane leak that can trigger an explosion as soon as a spark ignites a concentration of atmospheric propane that exceeds a certain threshold level. A pipe may breach because of age, poor maintenance or product defect.
Human error: Potential human errors are endless, and they tend to compound each other. A worker might leave a propane valve open after use, for example, another employee may forget to turn on a ventilator, and a third employee might set off an explosion by smoking in a non-smoking area.
Odor fade: An odorant must be added to propane so that a leak can be easily detected. If the odor fades for some reason (brand-new piping, for example, tends to absorb odor), a propane leak may go undetected until it is too late.
Improper storage and use: A propane tank might be used, for example, when it is sitting flush against another tank in storage, thereby causing an explosion.
Workman’s Compensation Claims
If you were an employee who was on-duty at the time of the explosion, you may be eligible to collect worker’s compensation benefits from your employer. Workman’s compensation carries two inherent flaws, however:
- It covers only employees, not independent contractors
- There are claim limits that may prevent you from obtaining full compensation for your injury
Bases of Civil Liability
An alternative to a worker’s compensation claim is to file a civil lawsuit. If the fault for the explosion can be traced to an on-duty employee, the employer is likely to be held vicariously liable for the explosion. This is advantageous to you, because an employer is more likely to have the “deep pockets” necessary to pay a lawsuit judgment.
To win a civil lawsuit you must usually show culpability, and the mere occurrence of an explosion doesn’t establish culpability. To establish culpability you must show that:
- There was a wrongful act or omission involved, or
- There was a defective, unreasonably dangerous product involved.
To establish a wrongful act or omission, it would likely be fruitful to look into Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations that govern the use, transportation, storage and maintenance of propane.
Although it is certainly advantageous to be able to point to a specific regulatory violation when claiming damages for a propane explosion, even without one you might be able to establish a claim for negligence based on behavior that simply violated common sense.
If a defective product such as a malfunctioning gas valve caused or contributed to the explosion, under certain circumstances you might be able to sue the manufacturer or distributor of the product under a product liability theory.
Contact Zinda Law Group Now
If you have been hurt in a workplace propane explosion, expert legal representation could make the difference between obtaining fair compensation and walking away empty-handed, even if your losses are immense. Zinda Law Group is a personal injury law firm like no other, as our many satisfied clients can attest to.
We have been approved by the Better Business Bureau®, and our attorneys are dedicated and experienced. We will fight for you and your right to receive full compensation. Call us right away at 800-863-53128 for a free initial consultation.
Where Zinda Law Group Practices:
Our car accident law firm was founded in Texas and has a team of Austin personal injury lawyers as well as attorneys in Dallas and Fort Worth.
As we’ve grown we expanded out west to El Paso, Texas subsequently into Arizona adding Tucson Personal Injury Lawyers to the firm, as well as adding offices in Colorado including Denver Personal Injury Lawyers and the surrounding cities such as Colorado Springs.
Types of Cases We Handle:
We also have a team of attorneys that have experience serious injury cases such as car accidents, wrongful death and truck accidents. We also have experience handling more complex cases such as gas explosions and drug injury cases, such as the Taxotere® Lawsuits.