A gas explosion has the potential to lead to devastating damage. These explosions can cause many terrible outcomes including serious personal injury, hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage, environmental harm, or even death. What many Americans fail to realize is that they are living with the possibility of an explosion occurring in their household every day. According to statistics from the American Gas Association, over 75 million US households utilize natural gas as an energy source for at least one appliance. 85% of space heaters run on natural gas and more than most houses that use natural gas as an energy source have more than one appliance that operates on natural gas.
While natural gas appliances and heating sources are clearly prevalent in many American homes, the safety of their use cannot always be assured. Unfortunately, as a naturally combustible chemical, gas that leaks or escapes can quickly lead to massive explosions that threaten the lives of household occupants and the integrity of their homes.
Here, we will focus on a particular type of natural gas explosion: those that are caused by defective gas appliances. We will look at how these explosions occur, the damage that they can cause, and the legal rights and remedies for affected victims.
When you or a loved one have been affected by a natural gas appliance explosion, our national gas explosion lawyers at Burg Simpson will stand up for you every step of the way.
Natural Gas Appliance Explosions
Natural gas explosions inside homes typically occur in one of two ways. The first way is when the gas begins to leak from a covered source such as an underground pipe. When this occurs, it can quickly become flammable and can come into contact with an igniting agent. Homeowners are typically warned by a foul odor and other signs such as dying plants and unusually high gas usage on their utility bills. When these signs are present, it is important to take immediate steps to investigate the leak and leave your home until the leak is located and remedied.
In the other scenario, the natural gas explosion is not caused by a leak but rather occurs due to the presence of a defective appliance. Natural gas appliances must be built and manufactured to meet strict quality control standards. These standards should be met before the appliance ever becomes part of the chain of commerce and ends up being sold to a consumer.
However, sometimes mistakes are made. A natural gas appliance may have a defect that results in a dangerous situation where the appliance may overheat, or gas can escape, leading to a potentially catastrophic situation.
Liability for Defective Appliance Explosion
A defective appliance explosion can and should lead to legal liability. In many cases of gas appliance explosions, the appliance itself was found to have a manufacturing defect that led to the explosion. In other words, the appliance came from the factory with some issue that caused it to be unreasonably dangerous and unfit for its anticipated use. Other natural gas appliance explosions do occur because of improper use but victims are most often harmed due to defectively designed or built appliances.
When an appliance is found to have a defect and that defect has led to an explosion, the manufacturer can be held liable through the filing of a products liability action. Under the law, a products liability action most often applies the legal standard known as strict liability. Under the strict liability rule, victims need not prove that the manufacturer was even negligent in making the appliance. Instead, they must typically show three things:
- The product contained a manufacturing defect that led to an explosion
- The manufacturing defect was the proximate cause of the explosion
- The defect caused the product to be unreasonably dangerous
If these three elements are met, the product manufacturer can be held responsible, and injured victims can recover for their damages.
Available Damages in Gas Appliance Explosions
Victims often wonder what damages are available to them when they have been affected by a gas appliance explosion. In defective appliance cases, it is important to fully recover for your injuries and losses. Accordingly, victims may seed payment of:
- Their medical and prescription bills for treatment resulting from the explosion
- Pain and suffering from the mental and physical effects of the explosion
- Lost wages for the time that they were out of work due to their injuries
- Punitive damages in cases where the manufacturer was extremely careless or reckless
It is important to note that, in a products liability action, multiple individuals and entities may be held responsible. Under this theory, anyone in the “chain of distribution” can be sued by injured victims. In a typical gas appliance case, the chain of distribution may include the following:
- The manufacturer of the product
- Product assemblers
- Wholesale and retail sellers of the defective appliance
Determining the extent of your legal claims as well as your available damage is a task that must be left to a skilled and experienced attorney. Having a tenacious law firm by your side is the key to ensuring that your case is properly valued and that all responsible parties are held fully accountable for their actions.
Nationwide Gas Explosion Attorneys
Too often, explosions hit close to home. A natural gas appliance explosion is a serious event that demands serious legal representation. Here at Burg Simpson, we fight each day for the rights of victims who have been affected by someone else’s negligence and we would be honored to assist you as well.
Our firm is standing by at any time to speak with you. We proudly provide free consultations and case evaluations for all potential and prospective clients. We handle cases on a contingency fee basis so there is no financial obligation until we obtain a recovery on your behalf.
To schedule your time to speak with one of our national gas explosion attorneys, please reach out using our online intake form or give us a call at 888-895-2080.