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Explosions kill, main and scar every day. An explosion reaps devastation. Nearby victims may suffer serious, catastrophic injuries, including burn injuries and crushing injuries. Explosions can happen on the jobsite, at home, in your car, or anywhere. Construction site and factory workers face more of a risk of suffering explosion injuries because they are often required to use hazardous, flammable materials.
At Michaels & Smolak, our Syracuse explosion injury lawyers have handled many explosion and burn cases, including some that have brought in trial verdicts or settlements of over a million dollars. From our experience, we know that natural gas and propane (liquefied petroleum gas), which are widely used for cooking and heating, and are a common cause of explosions. Many home appliances use gas. If the appliances malfunction, an explosive level of gas can accumulate in your home. Some of the common appliances are: stoves, ranges, ovens, cooking tops, water heaters, heating and cooling systems, dryers and fireplace logs.
Both natural gas and propane gas are odorless, so gas companies are required to add an odorant (usually butyl mercaptan) to gas as a “warning”. The smell is described often as that of “rotting cabbage” or “rotten eggs” or “skunk”. When a gas leak occurs, however, this smell does not always provide an adequate warning. Some noses are insensitive to smell, as when people have a cold, and the smell won’t generally wake a sleeping person. Some people don’t understand that the smell is a warning. Also, sometimes the manufacturer of the gas failed to add sufficient odorant, or the odorant was not properly mixed with the gas, or the gas was allowed to sit in the tank too long, causing the odorant to descend to the bottom of the tank.
When we handle an explosion case, our explosion injury lawyers visit the Syracuse area site of the explosion as soon as possible. Why? Because in explosion cases, the evidence can quickly disappear or be mishandled. Fire investigators and others quickly appear on the scene and move debris and other evidence. It is important for the explosion injury lawyer to be present when this occurs. It is essential to carefully and thoroughly photograph and “map” the debris fallout. This often signals the “epicenter” of the explosion, thus proving where the gas leak or other source of the explosion occurred. Any pipes or tanks that are thought to be the possible source of a gas leak need to be carefully preserved.
If you do smell gas, you should immediately leave the building or home you are in, and warn others to, too, and call 911 or your utility provider immediately. You should NOT call from the building, or turn any lights on – a spark from the phone or light switch might ignite the gas.
Propane is more dangerous than natural gas, for one thing because it is heavier than air, and tends to accumulate in low areas of the building where it might not reach your nose.
When a gas explosion occurs in the Syracuse area, our explosion injury lawyers often investigation often reveals multiple parties who may end up being legally liable for the resulting injuries and death: the local gas supply company, the “upstream” suppliers of the gas (those who sold the gas to the local supplier), the appliance manufacturer or seller or distributer, the party who installed the gas system or repaired or maintained the appliance, or the owner or landlord of the home or apartment. Investigating a gas explosion case requires experience and help from a gas explosion expert.
Explosion cases are not simple. They are complex, and involve an understanding of the “science” of gas behavior, which has a tendency to sink to the lowest areas of a home or building, and the attorney has to understand the ratio of gas to oxygen that makes the combination ripe for explosion. It is also often complicated to decipher the “ignition source”. Every dangerous mix of oxygen and gas needs a spark of some kind to ignite it. This spark can come from the automatic pilot on a gas stove, but even from someone turning a light switch on.
Because of the scientifically complex nature of explosions, a good explosion lawyer always uses the best explosion experts to help him determine the source and cause of the blast, as well as the rules and regulations – both at the federal and state level – that the culpable parties may have violated.
The Syracuse explosion accident attorneys of Michaels & Smolak have recovered millions of dollars for victims of explosions and for other injuries. If you or a loved one has been a victim of an explosion, CONTACT US for a free consultation with an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your legal rights and maximize your compensation.