Explosion Lawyer

If someone you love was injured or killed in an explosion, you can click here now to contact our law firm and request a free consultation. Our lawyers have handled cases against gas companies and others. One of our recent cases is discussed below.Lawyer Free Consultation

Explosion Settlement

Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman recently won $10 million in a settlement for a man who was severely burned in a propane gas explosion.

Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman

Attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman can be contacted for a free consultation (click here).

We alleged that the propane tank was only filled with one third of propane needed, in violation of industry safety standards, and the explicit warning on the tank. Our argument was that, because the tank was underfilled, odorant in the propane (added so that a leak can be detected by the awful smell) was rendered odorless. Because it had no odor, our client had no warning a propane leak had occurred.

“It’s crucial to do an independent investigation in any explosion case, so we work closely with experienced investigators to determine the actual cause of an explosion,” said Eric. “In doing so, we have found liability for things such as failure to comply with safety regulations, product defects and, in a recent case, for failure to protect against a phenomenon known as odor fade.”

“As most people know, propane has a distinctive odor, added by the manufacturer, but various environmental factors can cause propane to lose its odor, which allows escaping gas to go undetected and result in a serious explosion hazard.  Odor fade is a major problem with new propane tanks, which can absorb the odorant into the metal shell of the tank. We have found liability for ‘underfilling’ propane tanks, causing odor fade and creating a dangerous explosion risk.”

Our client spent nearly 2 months in a burn unit. He had third degree burns over almost 60% of his total body surface. Almost 70% of patients with comparable burns do not survive.

60% burns to his face and neck, entire trunk, bilateral hands and upper extremities, and bilateral lower extremities. He developed severe malnutrition and required enteral nutrition via a feeding tube placed for 43 days. He was on the ventilator for 4 days, had a bladder catheter for 28 days, and central venous access for 43 days.

Almost all of his burns were third degree, resulting in a total of 8 operations to achieve wound closure through various skin grafting techniques. He was hospitalized 55 days, in which time he developed a graft infection. He developed acute stress reaction, seen in essentially a third of burn patients, which progressed to persistent symptoms consistent with PTSD.

Wrongful Death Case

House Explosion and Fire Cause Wrongful Death

Charred Remains of House after Explosion Caused Fatal Fire

In another of our explosion cases, our client’s mother was sleeping in a duplex she had rented, when an explosion in the kitchen caused a fast-moving fire.  The mother did not awaken until after smoke and carbon monoxide had filled her side of the house. She was found dead in the charred remains of the home. There were no smoke or CO detectors.

The mother died as a direct result of the fire, with the autopsy report and blood toxicology indicating that her cause of death was carbon monoxide inhalation. We argued that the high level of carbon monoxide indicated that she survived for a lengthy period of time after initiation of the blaze.

“Had the home been equipped with smoke detectors, our client’s mother would have had time to escape the fire without injury.”

Family members who may have wrongful death claims after an explosion include the following: wife, husband, child, parent, other family members, depending on the state where the lawsuit is filed. A lawyer will need to be consulted.

Injuries

Explosion injuries have four classifications all of which can be fatal. Primary injuries are blast wave injuries caused by the increased pressure exerted on the body. Secondary injuries are penetrating trauma injuries from flying debris. Tertiary injuries result from being thrown by the blast. All other injuries including smoke inhalation, burns, crush injuries and complications of existing medical problems are classified as quaternary injuries. Contact our law firm about a lawsuit if you were injured in an explosion and want compensation.

Burn Injury

Third-degree burns are complex trauma injuries requiring specialty care in medical settings that be lengthy and expensive. Depending on the severity and location of the burns, treatment may require breathing assistance, tube feeding, skin grafts, plastic surgery, specialized dressings, ointments and creams; and physical or occupational therapy.

Smoke Inhalation

Breathing in chemical-filled smoke can cause severe injury, even permanent brain damage and death. Some possible smoke inhalation injuries include the following:

  • Atelectasis–a partial or full collapse of a lung;
  • Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome–a life-threatening condition caused by fluid buildup in the alveoli (air sacs) of the lungs, characterized by severe shortness of breath;
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning–characterized by flu-like symptoms including headaches, nausea and fatigue, this condition can cause brain damage and death;
  • Cyanide poisoning–characterized by weakness, confusion, dizziness, shortness of breath, fatigue and unusual behavior, this condition can cause heart attack, seizure, stroke, coma and death;
  • Hypoxia–oxygen deprivation that can cause brain damage.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Blast concussions can cause traumatic brain injury (TBI) symptoms, including headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness/balance problems, fatigue, insomnia/sleep disturbances, drowsiness, sensitivity to light/noise, blurred vision, difficulty remembering, and/or difficulty concentrating.

Lung Injury

The initial “blast wave” (shockwave) from an explosion can cause lung damage called blast lung. This is one of several possible primary injuries attributable to the blast wave, and the most common fatal primary blast injury among explosion survivors.

Heart Damage

The initial blast wave of an explosion can create blunt force trauma to the chest exerting overpressure on the heart, causing serious damage. Secondary injury in a blast occurs when shrapnel or flying debris pierces the skin creating an open wound. These injuries include lacerations of arteries, veins, heart valves and the heart muscle that can cause hemorrhaging.

Liver Injury

The blast wave exerts intense pressure on the body, and most often adversely impacts the ears, abdomen and lungs. Lung tissue can be torn or burst at the gas-fluid interphase upon impact. The extent of the liver damage during the explosion depends on the intensity of the pressure, the density of the tissue and other factors.

Crush Injury

Crush Injuries are often the result of a structural collapse after an explosion when debris or rubble from the structure falls on people nearby injuring and immobilizing them.  Although all parts of the body can suffer crush injuries, the legs are most commonly affected, followed by arms and then the torso. These injuries can cause bleeding, bruising, bone fracture, nerve damage, crush syndrome and compartment syndrome.

Ruptured Eardrum

The initial blast wave (overpressure) of an explosion can exert enough force on the tympanic membrane (eardrum) to rupture or destroy it and to fracture or dislocate the ossicles (bony structures) in the middle ear causing hearing loss.

Eye Damage

Preliminary damage to the eye in a blast wave can include: orbital fracture, a break in the bone of the eye socket; ruptured globes, tear in the cornea and/or the sclera, the white part of the eye; and traumatic optic neuropathy, damage to the optic nerve. Any of these severe injuries can cause permanent vision loss. In addition to the risk of going blind, the entire eye may be so damaged that it has to be surgically removed.

Explosion Causes

Propane Gas

Propane is generally stored in a tank as a liquid and used as a gas. Because it is stored under pressure, there is a risk of explosion. Propane is flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be ignited by many sources, including open flames, smoking materials, electrical sparks, and static electricity. Its vapors are heavier than air. For this reason, they may accumulate in low-lying areas such as basements, crawl spaces, and ditches, or along floors. However, air currents can sometimes carry propane vapors elsewhere within a building. Read about a propane explosion lawsuit.

Natural Gas Pipline

The video below shows the resulting fire after an explosion caused by a gas pipeline (main) leak. Witnesses said the fireball was 100 feet high.

Natural gas explosions are generally caused by either a gas line or defective product exploding. In these cases, the gas company, a manufacturer and others may be liable, meaning they are legally responsible for the explosion and can be sued for personal injury or wrongful death.

Some products that have caused explosions include water heaters, outdoor grills, ovens and generators.

For more information, read Gas Explosion Lawyer.

Boiler

Boiler explosions can occur when there is excessive pressure.  When the boiler can no longer contain the excessive pressure allowed to build in the boiler, the boiler explodes. Excessive pressure accidents can completely destroy a building. Fuel-related boiler explosions can occur when there is a failure to purge combustible gases from the firebox before ignition is attempted. Leaking fuel valves can also be the cause of explosions.
In some cases, a boiler explosion can be caused when the boiler is allowed to operate without adequate water. For more information, read Boiler Explosion Lawyer.

News

  • A new study by the University of Dundee is the latest to find that smoke alarms often fail to wake children.  The findings, consistent with earlier studies, confirm the need for improved smoke alarm technology and for adults to wake children......

  • Sixty-three gas leaks have been discovered at a Medina, OH apartment complex where an explosion on February 9 killed two people and injured a third. Jacob Harley Drake, an 18-year-old man who was confined to a wheelchair, died in a fire......

  • An employee at First Student, a transportation company in Rochester, MN, was injured and taken to the hospital when a propane-fueled bus exploded in a garage on February 17. Five people were in the garage, located at 2021 32nd Ave.......

  • In 2016, the number of grain dust explosions hit a 10-year low, but fatalities were reported for the first time since 2013, according to a new report from the Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Five grain dust ...

  • A boiler explosion has killed a Revere, MA  man. Reyes Bertrand,  50, a husband and father of two,  died while checking on a boiler that had recently been malfunctioning. The explosion occurred just after 4:30 a.m. on February 15 in......

  • A house fire in Duluth, MN has claimed the life of one man early this morning. Firefighters responding to the call just after midnight arrived to find the home, located in the 4500 block of Cooke Street, fully engulfed in......

What Can Our Law Firm Do for You?

If you hire our law firm, we will help you and your family:

  • get answers;
  • hold all responsible parties accountable.

Our attorneys have successfully used their experience to investigate, litigate and win explosion cases.  They are familiar with the terminology and have access to highly-qualified experts who can provide valuable testimony.

Contact our lawyers to find out if you have a personal injury (you or a family member was injured) or wrongful death (your loved one did not survive) claim and can sue the wrongdoers.

For more information, please read the following:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Odor Fade?

Because propane in its natural state is odorless and undetectable, unodorized propane presents an exceptionally high explosion risk in the event of a leak. To combat this risk, a “stench gas” (ethyl mercaptan) with an instantly-recognizable rotten-egg like odor is added to propane as an odorant.

Maintaining odorant in propane is crucial, so there are basic steps which need to be taken to ensure that odor fade does not occur. In particular, odor fade is known to be a risk in tanks which are new or are not in continuous use. In such situations, ethyl mercaptan in the propane can bind to the interior surface of the tank, decreasing the amount of odorant. If enough odorant is absorbed by the tank surface, the gas again becomes odorless. This is what we alleged happened in this case.

A new tank was delivered to a residence and then allegedly filled to only 30% of capacity. At some point, propane gas escaped, although the source of the leak has never been determined. By the time it leaked, the gas’s lack of odorant made it undetectable and deprived all those in its vicinity of any warning of its presence. When our client lit a match, he had no idea of the danger he faced due to the presence of odorless propane. As a result, propane gas ignited, causing the explosion.

Are There Steps That Should be Taken to Prevent Odor Fade?

As any reasonable propane company knows, odor fade is a common risk in new propane tanks, but two primary precautions can greatly reduce that risk:

  1. purging the tank (which removes moisture); and
  2. filling the tank to the maximum level at the first fill.

Industry-standard educational courses require propane department employees make it abundantly clear that odor fade presents a substantial risk to consumers which propane personnel must actively work to prevent.

National Fire Prevention Association publication NFPA 58, the liquefied petroleum gas code, sets for the codes, guidelines, standards and practices applicable to the propane industry. Many states have statutorily adopted NFPA 58, meaning it is the law in those states. Among other things, NFPA 58 requires that “persons who transfer liquid LP-Gas shall be trained in proper handling and operating procedures.” The industry standard is the National Propane Gas Association’s Certified Employee Training Program (“CETP”).

CETP training begins with the most essential module: Basic Principles and Practices. Nor surprisingly, odor fade is a prominent part of the basic propane training. In fact, the very first chapter of the first CETP training unit includes odor fade prevention training. And at the bottom of one of the first pages is “Note: It is important to guard against odorant fade in new containers.”

More News

  • Investigation of Gas Explosion Points to Con Edison. Two apartment buildings in New York City were leveled by a gas explosion.  Twenty minutes before the explosion, someone had called and reported smelling gas. Eight people died and dozens were injured. Those who died were either burned or crushed. And it looks like there was a separation where the gas main connected to the service line for one of the apartment buildings.
  • Fatal House Explosion in Alliance, Nebraska. Propane build-up is the probably cause of a house explosion in Alliance, Nebraska, that tragically killed 2 people.
  • A homeowner in Westminister, Maryland, was critically injured when his shed exploded.  He suffered second and third-degree burns and was taken to Johns Hopkins. The explosion blasted nails and other debris throughout the neighborhood, “There was debris from the shed, as well as the pressure impact, which affected approximately 11 other homes,” Bruce Bouch, from the state Fire Marshal’s Office, reported. This may be a propane explosion (http://www.wbaltv.com/news/shed-explosion-damages-11-homes-in-westminster/29617262).
  • A propane line was cut at a construction site in Seely Lake, Montana, and efforts to fix it apparently went awry.  An explosion burned 2 men, one of them severely. One of the burn victims was airlifted to a Seattle, Washington, hospital for treatment. The other burn victim was taken by ambulance to Missoula (http://flatheadbeacon.com/2014/10/31/two-injured-propane-explosion-seeley-lake/).
  • Three people were burned when a propane tank in a fire pit exploded. The propane tank was owned by a restaurant. San Diego police investigated. Burn victims, including one child, were transported to the burn treatment center at University of California San Diego Medical Center (http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/24/propane-blast-explosion-coffee-carmel-mountain/).
  • The force of an explosion at a vodka distillery in San Antonia, Texas blew a man through a wall.  The man was the only worker at the factory at the time. It took firefighters about 40 minutes to put out the fire caused by the blast. A Bexar County Fire Department spokesperson said there may have been a leak from an ethanol or propane tank (http://www.ksat.com/content/pns/ksat/news/2014/10/24/explosion-sparks-fire-at-vodka-distillery.html).
  • Read about a duplex explosion lawsuit investigation.

In some situations, major gas and oil companies do business in every state: Alabama AL, Arizona AZ, Los Angeles, California CA, Colorado CO, Connecticut CT, Delaware DE, Florida FL, Georgia GA, Iowa IA, Illinois IL, Indiana IN, Kansas KS, Louisiana LA, Massachusetts MA, Maryland MD, Maine ME, Michigan MI, Minnesota MN, North Carolina NC, North Dakota ND, Nebraska NE, New Hampshire NH, New Jersey NJ, New York NY, Ohio OH, Oklahoma OK, Oregon OR, Pennsylvania PA, Rhode Island RI, South Carolina SC, South Dakota SD, Tennessee TN, Texas TX, Utah UT, Virginia VA, Washington WA, West Virginia WV, Wyoming WY.