The presence of household gas in most residences is usually taken for granted. It is there, in tank form or coming in through a pipe, fueling heaters, boilers, dryers, ovens, and so on. But the potential for danger in having such explosive material in the home seldom occurs to anyone until an accident happens. An explosion injury can be devastating, not to mention the damage to property, but who is liable?
Residential gas explosions happen for a variety of reasons. Recent natural gas explosions in several states were traced to leaks from aging and poorly maintained pipelines which had originally been lain half a century ago. Between 2005 and 2009, there have been 14 deaths and 51 injuries reported from 282 incidents of pipeline explosions. There have been some initiatives to improve the safety of these pipelines that feed into homes and residential buildings, but it is slow going.
Other residential gas leaks that have been reported involve poorly-maintained and improperly placed propane tanks. Gas companies who install and refill these tanks have the responsibility to ensure that they are properly housed and maintained. In one incident, the gas company overfilled the tanks, which were already in poor condition, and the gas leaked, causing an explosion.
For residential buildings where there is a landlord or a building administrator, gas lines should be regularly inspected and regulated by certified professionals. It is the responsibility of the building manager to ensure that this is done.
Liability for a residential gas explosion injury or death depends on the type of household gas used, type of residence, and the circumstances surrounding the incident. If you believe that the residential gas explosion that injured you occurred due to the negligence of the professionals who are supposed to ensure the safety of pipelines and tanks, then you should sue. Consult with an explosion injury lawyer who is experienced in dealing with residential gas leak explosions and see if you are eligible to recover damages.
Fertilizer seems innocuous enough to most, but when it comes to ammonium nitrate, it’s not a matter for the compost heap. This was amply demonstrated when the West Fertilizer Company exploded on April 17, flattening 5 blocks of homes surrounding the plant, injuring 200 people and killing 14. Ammonium nitrate is well known as a dangerous chemical; it was responsible for the most disastrous industrial accident in US history in 1947 when a ship carrying 2,300 tons of the chemical fertilizer was in route to Waco, Texas when it exploded. It killed 576 people, including 26 firemen.
The extent of the damage for the West, Texas explosion is quite extensive. Aside from residential buildings, the accident wiped out a nursing home and the local school, as well as creating a huge crater where the plant used to be. The costs have not yet been released.
It has been pointed out that while the cause of the explosion is still unknown two months after the fact, the factory has a history for not following safety laws and regulations. Storing dangerous chemicals such as ammonium nitrate in close proximity to people’s homes, schools and nursing homes is bad enough. West Fertilizer also failed to report to the Department of Homeland Security that they were storing 270 tons of ammonium nitrate, a chemical that can be used for terrorist attacks as mandated by law. Clearly, the company has very little consideration for the safety of their employees as well as the surrounding community and just as clearly culpable for the damages to property, personal injuries and wrongful deaths that resulted from this negligence.
But West Fertilizer, like many big corporations, has vast resources at its command, including legal representation. Those who have suffered explosion injuries, death and property damage may feel daunted about bringing the people responsible to book, but they have a right and responsibility to do so. If you or someone you know has been directly affected by this terrible accident, consult with an experienced explosion injury lawyer in Texas and get justice done.
A direct exposure to an explosion is one traumatic experience that can result to severe injuries. Besides a bomb, which is the most common cause of a blast, there are many other causes of explosions, including gas pipelines, propane, fertilizers (these contain the chemical ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive compound that is commonly used in agricultural fertilizers), gas tankers, fuel barges and others. Whatever the cause of the explosion, however, the effect always becomes more intense when it happens in confined spaces, like in enclosed large vehicles, buildings or mines.
Explosions, as fire engineers put it, are the effect of the abrupt violent expansion of gases. Besides the loud noise, balls of flame, clouds of black smoke, and scorching heat, an explosion also produces shock waves, which cause windows to shatter, doors to be knocked down and walls to collapse. Depending on the surroundings and the distance of a person, an explosion can shatter glasses, knock people down and even damage their lungs and other parts of the body; a blasted lung, which refers to severe pulmonary contusions, is actually the most common cause of fatal injury among survivors.
There are four classes of injuries sustained from a blast, these are:
Primary injuries – caused by blast overpressure / shock waves and these are sustained due to proximity to the explosion. Injuries are usually damage to the middle ears, blasted lungs, abdominal hemorrhage and perforation, eye rupture and damage to the gastrointestinal tract’s hollow organs.
Secondary injuries – are due to fragmentation and explosion-propelled objects that can affect any part of the body. Secondary wounds, which can be caused by shattered glasses or metals, such as in nail bombs, can have lethal effects.
Tertiary injuries – also called tertiary blast injuries are caused by the blast wind created by air displacement at the moment of explosion. Blast winds can throw people, especially children, towards solid things and vice versa. Victims who sustain this type of injuries can suffer from fractured bones and coup contre-coup injuries. Coup injury means injury on the part that suffered direct impact on another solid object; contre-coup refers to the other side of that part that was directly impacted.
Quaternary injuries – refers to any injuries that fall out of the first three types. These may be physical, like respiratory injuries and flash burns, or psychological, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and psychiatric injuries.
Filing a lawsuit against the party liable for the explosion that has caused your injuries may be more complex than you think. To make sure that you make the right moves and are able to prepare the right case and evidences that will strengthen your case, hiring an experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel ought to be one of your immediate decisions.