Gas cans can explode and cause burn injuries for you or other people standing nearby. Injuries from gas can explosions have reportedly been linked to eleven deaths and over 1,200 emergency room visits over the past 20 years according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
It is estimated that Americans buy about 20 million gas cans per year. Over 100 million plastic gas cans are in circulation in the U.S. Gas cans are sold to consumers every day, but many people are unaware of how dangerous they can be. If you or someone you know have questions about a gas can explosion injury, read on to find out more information.
What Causes a Gas Can Injury?
Gas cans often explode when gas vapors inside the can ignite. When a flame reaches the gas inside the can, it causes an explosion. The combination of gas and vapor creates a fiery and potentially deadly boom called a “flashback” explosion.
Sometimes, a red plastic gas container will have a defect. Other times, the gas can will not have a clear, bold warning label on it.
Either way, gas cans may cause injury.
When are Gas Can Injuries Likely?
Gas can explosions are common when:
- A gas can is close to a fire
- When gas is being poured out of the can
- When the gas can is nearly empty
At all times, gas is a hazardous substance that may combust.
What are the Types of Gas Can Injuries?
Gas can explosions can cause serious and potentially deadly injuries, including:
- Burn injuries
- Head Trauma
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
- Broken bones
- Loss of limbs
- Lacerations (cuts)
- Respiratory injuries from inhaling gas fumes
- Chemical injuries
- Injuries resulting from flying debris
- Various other types of injuries
A gas can explosion may also cause fires that result in property damage. Cars, buildings, and residences may be damaged by gas can explosions. When a gas can explodes, it may cause other explosions and spread fires
Young kids often make attempts to imitate their parents. Most cases involving severe gas burns to children under the age of six happen during situations where the child removed the cap of a gas can. After removing the cap of the gas can, the child oftentimes attempts to pour gasoline on a toy mower or bicycle. As a result of the weight of the five gallon gasoline containers, children often end up covered in gas, and they can suffer severe injuries if those vapors ignite.
What Makes a Gas Can Defective?
Gas cans may be defective for the following reasons:
- No flame arrestor in the spout of the gas can. This simple modification typically costs no more than 50 cents to add. The flame arrestor forces the flame to travel through a channel that is too narrow for a flame to pass through. This keeps gasoline in the can from igniting and exploding.
- Lack of a child-resistant gas cap. Manufacturers have been known to sell portable gas containers without child-resistant gas caps, even though an original cap with a child-resistant cap costs typically no more than a few cents extra to manufacture.
In July 2008, the Children’s Gasoline Burn Prevention Act was passed and required all gas cans sold on or before January 17, 2009 to include child-resistant gas caps.
- Lack of proper warnings on the container. Manufacturers of portable gas cans often mold their warnings into the side of their gas containers. These tiny, raised, plastic letters are often too small to properly read. Sometimes, the warning label may be missed altogether because the red letters blend into the red container.
- Lack of spill-proof closures on the container. Without proper spill-proof closures, accidental gasoline spills become more likely.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Gas Can Explosions?
Although gas container explosions may be caused in many different ways, depending on the situation, different parties may be held legally liable for the injuries caused by the explosion.
The manufacturer of the gas can may be liable if a defect within the gas can resulted in an injury. In cases like these, a design defect may have made an explosion or gas leak more likely.
In other cases, a person or a business may be liable for negligently using a dangerous gas can.
A gas station may have provided a customer with a dangerous or recalled gas container. If the gas station knew that the gas container they sold to a customer was dangerous or subject to recall, they may be held liable under a negligence theory of law.
What Remedies are Available for a Gas Can Explosion Lawsuit?
Gas can explosions may require a lawsuit. In those cases, compensatory damages may be awarded to the injured party. Compensatory damages cover material and financial losses caused by the explosion. Those damages may help pay for hospital bills, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other expenses. These damages can be calculated by tallying up bills, receipts, and other invoices related to the explosion.
In some cases, class action lawsuits may be filed when many people were injured by the same type of product or specific kind of gas container.
Finally, punitive damages may be available in gas can explosion cases. Punitive damages are not linked to any material losses, but they punish the party responsible for the explosion for the incident that happened. Punitive damages may be higher based on the severity of the explosion and the type of injuries or fatalities that occurred.
The Statute of Limitations on Product Liability Cases
When a product like a gas can malfunctions and causes an explosion, injured victims and their loved ones have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. This limited amount of time is called a statute of limitations.
If you don’t file a lawsuit within a certain time period, then a lawsuit can’t be pursued against the manufacturer, seller, installer, or distributor of the product. The statute of limitations in products liability cases varies by state. Consult an attorney to find out all you need to know about the statute of limitations for gas can explosions in your state.
Should I Hire a Lawyer to Assist Me With a Gas Can Explosion Lawsuit?
Gas can explosion lawsuits can involve many different laws and issues. If you’ve been injured by a gas can explosion, you may want to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area to help you with a lawsuit. An attorney can provide you with legal advice and representation.
Where Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Gas container injury lawsuits can be complex. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area if you need help with a lawsuit. Your attorney can provide you with legal advice, representation, and guidance for your claim. LegalMatch’s personal injury database is a great resource for finding an experienced personal injury lawyer in your state or city.
The area of personal injury law is vast and deals with a variety of cases in which victims were injured by the fault of someone else. Fortunately, our database of personal injury lawyers is just as broad, and is composed of excellent attorneys. If you’re interested in finding a personal injury lawyer in your area, use the link here. LegalMatch’s services can help you narrow down your search for a lawyer by choosing the issues involved in your case. There is no fee to present your case, the lawyers presented will be from your area, and our service is 100% confidential.