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With Summer in full swing and the 4th of July right around the corner, households across our country will fire up their propane grills to host barbecues for families and friends. Millions of families use propane tanks as part of daily life to heat water, cook, grill and heat their homes. Unfortunately, thousands of victims are either killed or burned from propane explosions every year. Other propane explosion injuries include loss of hearing and/or eyesight, brain injuries from the shock waves, permanent scarring and facial lacerations.
Propane Tank Fires and Explosions
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that between 2011 and 2015 there were around 9,600 home fires involving propane grills that required a fire department dispatch, resulting in an average of 160 injuries, 10 deaths, and $133 million in property damage each year. July is the peak month in grill fires, followed by May, June, and August. According to the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association (HPBA), 73% of consumers grill on the 4th of July, 60% on Memorial Day, 58% grill on Labor Day, and 45% grill on Father’s Day.
Not only do propane tank fires result from gas grills, but propane tank fires and explosions also occur from heating homes and water heaters. Over the last few years, propane tanks have been used to manufacture methamphetamine in illegal meth labs, where they are used to store anhydrous ammonia. This substance ruins propane tank valves, and when these tanks are recycled, the valve may be defective and dangerous. If defective tanks are not properly removed from the supply systems when they are recycled and filled, they pose a serious risk of an explosion to innocent purchasers.
Propane tanks involved in explosions vary from small tanks (commonly used for outdoor grills) to tanks containing thousands of gallons of propane (such as a propane truck).
Propane tanks can pose a serious risk and are extremely dangerous. Propane accidents can lead to massive explosions which result in deaths and severe burns.
Propane Tank Safety
One of the easiest ways to detect a propane leak is through smell. Although propane is odorless, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) safety regulations require a chemical to be added to it that creates a smell of rotten eggs, skunk, or dead animal that will alert the user in the event of a leak. If the chemical is not added properly or weeks have passed since the propane tank was last filled, the odor may be undetectable. If the propane tank is in use of an area that is not well-ventilated, a single spark or open flame may ignite an explosion. Despite how careful individuals may be with propane tanks, whether for residential or commercial use, propane-related accidents and injuries still occur.
Who is Liable in a Propane Tank Explosion?
The circumstances and facts surrounding the propane tank explosion will need to be carefully investigated in order to determine who may be liable. Potentially liable persons or companies (depending on the type of explosion involved) include:
- The manufacturer of the defective propane tank (if the tank is defective)
- The manufacturer of parts used to make propane tanks (if a defective part, such as the shut-off valve)
- Anyone who caused the propane take to rupture or to be subject to fire
- The company that recycled the tank, if the tank is not properly removed from the supply chain when considered defective.
- Anyone filling the propane tank, if a person fails to securely close the tank, and the company responsible for that person (such as a gas station)
- Sellers (including retailers and wholesalers) of defective propane tanks
- Individuals or companies storing propane tanks on their property, if the propane tank explosion harms others.
Defective Propane Tanks: Product Liability Lawsuits Against Manufacturers
Most propane tank explosions are a result of a defect in the product. In general, there are 3 distinct causes of action in a product liability claim.
- Defect in the design of the product: This can be proven by presenting a safer/less dangerous design at a comparable price point to the design that was implemented into production.
- Defect in the manufacturing process of the propane tank: This cause of action is proven by showing that the product that was manufactured and distributed is different and as a result more dangerous than the original intended design.
- Defect in labeling: Otherwise known as failure to warn defect. This can be proven by showing that the manufacturer failed to place a proper warning sign regarding the known dangers associated with the use of the product.
Stay safe with these Propane Safety Tips!
Why Hire A Propane Accident Attorney?
A personal injury attorney will have the resources and knowledge to thoroughly investigate the propane tank explosion and fire involving a client in order to identify all who were responsible for their damages and injuries. In an injury or wrongful death case, it is common to retain an accident reconstructionist to help determine how the accident occurred and who was liable. If the case involves a defective product, the investigator will look into the chain of distribution in order to determine who was involved in the sale of the defective product. Once liability is determined, a personal injury attorney will then be able to pursue damages on your behalf.
Contact Thompson Law
If you have been injured in a propane tank accident, you need a team of attorneys experienced in handling complex gas explosion cases. Not only do we offer free case reviews, but we also work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you only get to pay us only if we win your case. Contact attorney Ryan L. Thompson of Thompson Law at 844-308-8180.