Plant Explosions – Commonly Asked Questions
Plant explosions are devastating events that often lead to serious property damage, devastating personal injuries, and, in many cases, fatalities. There are many different questions that victims impacted by plant explosions may have, but below are some of the more common ones that our experienced attorneys have addressed.
What are Common Causes of Plant Explosions?
A common cause of plant explosions is human error, generally involving the violation of one of the many safety regulations imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). An employee may have been smoking in a non-smoking area, for example, or the company may have failed to properly maintain its equipment. Another common cause of plant explosions is equipment malfunction due to a design or manufacturing defect – a safety valve may have malfunctioned or the manufacturer that supplied propane gas purchased by the company may have failed to add an odorant to the mix (making gas leaks difficult to detect before an explosion).
What Kinds of Injuries are Common in Plant Explosions?
An explosion can produce a wide variety of injuries. When expanding gas hits the body at high velocity, for example, it can cause a concussion, inner ear damage, or lung damage. Flying debris can puncture the body or cause blunt force trauma. Additional injuries, such as concussions or even amputations, may occur when the blast wave tosses a victim’s body against a hard surface. Surface burns are common, as are broken bones. Lung damage may occur when the blast releases toxic fumes that are then pushed into the lungs by the force of the blast.
Who is Liable?
If the explosion was caused by the misconduct or negligence of a plant employee, the employee is liable for the explosion. In most cases, the employer will also be liable, because employers are generally held liable for the on-duty negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior of their employees. If the explosion was caused by malfunctioning equipment, the equipment manufacturer might be liable. Under product liability law, however, once liability for a defective product is established, it is possible to sue anyone in the chain of distribution, including the retailer and the wholesaler.
What Kind of Losses are Recoverable?
Personal injury law generally recognizes three primary types of damages – economic, non-economic, and physical impairment/disfigurement. Economic damages compensate you for your direct expenses, lost work time, and out-of-pocket expenses that are attributable to the explosion. These damages are not capped under Colorado law. Non-economic damages compensate a person for physical pain and psychological distress that result from the injuries, including loss of the ability to enjoy day-to-day activities, such as exercise and sexual relations (the amount of non-economic damages awarded often exceeds the amount of economic damages, but there is a cap in place in Colorado limiting the amount of non-economic damages that can be awarded). Damages for physical impairment reflect cosmetic or anatomical harm to the victim, but the term is not clearly defined. These damages are not capped. Under Colorado law, punitive damages are rarely awarded and only under the most extreme circumstances. The spouse of an injured party might be able to recover damages for “loss of consortium,” which means loss of the injured spouse’s love, companionship, sexual relations and other benefits of marriage. If the victim was killed, the spouse or another close relative might be able to file a separate wrongful death lawsuit.
If you or one of your relatives has been hurt in a plant explosion that was caused by someone else’s negligence or by a defective product, you might be entitled to a large amount of compensation. It is crucial to have experienced professional legal assistance because winning a lawsuit or successfully negotiating a settlement requires a great deal of skill. Zinda Law Group is a leading personal injury law firm that has earned an excellent record of client satisfaction. Our personal injury attorneys stand ready to aggressively represent you so that you can receive the compensation you deserve. Call 800-863-5312 immediately to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.