Explosions can cause a wide range of injuries that often require care in specialized settings over an extended period of time. Some of these injuries include burns, smoke inhalation, brain damage, blast lung, heart or liver damage, crush injuries, and damage to the eyes or ears. Our law firm helps people get compensation, including a $10 million settlement for a client who was badly burned in a propane explosion.
Burned by Heat from the Explosion and Resulting Fire
Burns can be caused by the heat from the blast and from the resulting fire. Third-degree burns require specialty care in medical settings that can be lengthy and expensive. Depending on the severity and location of the burns, treatment may require breathing assistance, tube feeding, skin grafts, plastic surgery, and specialized dressings, which cause severe pain each time they are changed.
The process of changing a dressing involves carefully removing the dead skin and skin graft staples (absorbable staples are becoming widely available) and the application of ointments. After the initial phase of care, the responsibility for changing the dressings often falls to the spouse or parent. We believe these caregivers should also be compensated by the companies responsible for the blast.
Breathing in extremely hot, chemical-filled smoke can cause severe burns, permanent brain damage, and death. Some possible smoke inhalation injuries include the following:
- internal burns;
- collapsed lung;
- respiratory distress;
- permanent, severe brain damage, often attributable to oxygen deprivation (hypoxia), but may be caused by dangerous toxins;
- carbon monoxide poisoning;
- cyanide poisoning.
Traumatic Brain Injury
People near the source of the blast almost always suffer a traumatic brain injury such as:
- intracranial (in the brain) hemorrhage (bleeding);
- cerebral contusion (bruising of the brain);
- diffuse axonal injury (damage from the brain moving rapidly back and forth in the skull), which happens during the blast wave.
The initial “blast wave” (shockwave) from an explosion can cause lung damage called blast lung. Lung tissue can be torn or burst during the intense pressure of the initial blast wave, which happens when a burst of energy emanates from the source and then is sucked back into that source location. Blast lung is attributable to the blast wave, and is the most common fatal primary blast injury among survivors.
The heart can be damaged in the initial blast wave of an explosion, which exerts blunt force trauma to the chest. In addition, the heart can be punctured by shrapnel or flying debris. These injuries can include lacerations of arteries, veins, heart valves, and the heart muscle.
Crush Injuries are often the result of a structural collapse (like a house being blown apart). Debris and rubble from the structure can fall on people, causing severe physical harm and death. For example, if a propane tank eruption causes the top story of a house to collapse, anyone on the story below will be harmed. There have been cases where people sleeping below died and were buried under the rubble.
Although all parts of the body can suffer crush injuries, the legs are most commonly affected, followed by arms, and then the torso. People can suffer bleeding, bruising, bone fractures, nerve damage, crush syndrome, and compartment syndrome.
The initial blast wave (overpressure) 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. Ruptured eardrum is the most common damage from a blast wave.
Preliminary damage to the eye in an explosion 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, which is damage to the optic nerve. These injuries can be caused by the blast wave. Any of these 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. In addition, flying debris can penetrate the eye or the face close to the eye and cause blindness or other permanent damage.
Penetrating Trauma From Flying Debris
Shrapnel or flying debris can pierce the body, creating penetrating trauma that damages internal organs, lacerates arteries and veins, or creates open wounds. The liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and brain are all at risk of severe damage, and penetration of any of these organs can be fatal.
$10 Million Settlement
In a recent case, attorneys Fred Pritzker and Eric Hageman won a $10 million settlement for a man who was severely burned. Below is a picture of the remains of the house that was damaged when propane gas ignited. Our client, who was unaware that gas had leaked from the propane tank, lit a match and was blown off of this deck. He suffered second and third-degree burns on over 60 percent of his body, fractures, and brain damage. His life was irreparably changed.
Personal Injury Lawsuit | How Much is My Explosion Case Worth?
Several factors need to be considered to determine how much a case is worth. In the case described above, the settlement was high because of the severity of the burns, permanent brain damage, and our client’s inability to continue to run his business, along with other factors. In addition, Fred and Eric found multiple companies to sue, each with insurance money that could be used to pay our client. In many cases, the amount of money recovered is severely limited by insurance coverage limits.
In most cases, injuries include burns, which cause severe pain, scarring, and in some cases, loss of limbs. Our law firm is representing a man who lost a leg, an arm, and an ear when he was burned from the heat of the inferno that erupted from an exploding gas line. It is a miracle our client is still alive, and we are working hard to make sure he is fully compensated. The amount Fred and Eric asked for in the demand letter and the lawsuit documents is based on their understanding of the case and their years of experience.
What Happens When I Decide to Sue for Compensation?
To sue for a compensation, your lawyer may take the following steps:
- Gather evidence needed to prove your case and get you the money you deserve;
- Determine what people and companies to sue;
- Send those people and businesses demand letters, which outline why you have a case against them, how much money you should get, and why you should get that amount;
- Negotiate to get you a good settlement;
- If that fails, file a lawsuit;
- Continue to build a winning case and pursue a settlement through negotiations;
- Take the case to trial if a settlement can’t be reached.
We recommend you hire an explosion attorney because these are complex cases, and until an attorney conducts an independent investigation, you will not even know who to sue.
What if My Child is Badly Burned?
If your minor child (under the age of 18) is badly burned, you may be able to sue on behalf of your child. You will need a lawyer to file the lawsuit with you as the “plaintiff” (the legal term for the person who is suing), and language making it clear that you are suing for the benefit of your son or daughter. Any money won in a settlement or at trial will be placed in a trust for the benefit of your child.
If your child is over 18, he or she can sue on his or her own behalf. If your adult child is unable to sue because of incapacity, as with the minor child, you can sue on your child’s behalf, with any money going into a trust for your child.
What If My Spouse Is Severely Injured and Unconscious?
If your spouse is severely injured in a blast and unconscious (in a coma, for example), you may be able to sue on behalf of your husband or wife. You may also have a claim against the companies legally responsible for the harm. Your claim would be that your spouse is no longer able to give you the care, comfort, and married relationship that you once enjoyed. Our lawyers have successfully handled many cases like this.
Contact our law firm for a free lawsuit evaluation. Your consultation will be free, and we are not paid unless we win.