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 What Is Personal Injury?

In short, personal injury law allows injured parties to recover a monetary damages award to compensate them for the injuries that they experienced from an accident. Personal injury law does not address criminal law; as such, when a person files a personal injury lawsuit, it is a civil lawsuit. A criminal action may be filed separately, if the incident leading to the personal injury was of a criminal nature.

A personal injury action may be one of three types:

  1. Intentional tort: An intentional tort is committed against another person, with purpose. However, it may also be defined by a simple awareness of the results of your action. Additionally, while the wrong action is most commonly committed against a person, it can also be committed to property;
  2. Negligence: Generally speaking, the tort of personal injury is not committed with the intent to impact the other person. It could occur as the result of the defendant’s negligent behavior. The following must be established in order to prove negligence:
    • Duty: Did the defendant owe a duty to the plaintiff? An example of this would be how a doctor has a duty associated with their professional responsibilities to care for their patient. The nature of the duty may be based on similar professional standards, but there is an additional “standard of reasonable care” that members of society owe to each other. An example of this would be how all drivers have the responsibility to not drive in such a way that they bring, or could bring, harm to other drivers and pedestrians;
    • Breach of Duty: Once duty has been established, the plaintiff must show that the duty was breached in some way. To expand upon the previous examples, a breach of duty would occur when the doctor did not perform their duty to their patient with reasonable care. The driver did not drive in a reasonably safe manner;
    • Causation: Simply being in a vehicle accident in which you were injured, and someone else caused the accident, does not prove causation. The plaintiff must specifically show that the defendant driver’s actions actually caused their injuries. What this means is that no other intervening actions must have caused the injuries. An example of this would be a biker that you both swerved to avoid, because in that situation it is possible to hold the biker accountable; and
    • Damages: If there is no injury to you or damage to your vehicle, you cannot collect damages under this type of action simply because someone hit your car with theirs. Actual injury, or “damages,” must be proven.
  3. Strict liability: These are specialized cases, which generally apply to business owners or manufacturers, who have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe for consumers. When injury occurs in such a case, the defendant will be held responsible automatically; meaning, it does not matter if they had intent, or were negligent.

What Are Gas Explosions?

Compressed gas is commonly used for many different purposes, including household as well as business or commercial uses. Although compressed gas is used frequently, it remains dangerous. One danger would be gas explosions, which would be considered a type of personal injury accident. Gas explosions can occur if the gas is exposed to a spark or ignition that sets off an explosion of the substance. No matter the purpose of the gas being used, an explosion may occur due to operator error or negligence.

The size or severity of the explosion can depend on several factors, including but not limited to:

  • The type of gas involved;
  • The quantity of gas involved;
  • The amount of compression used in storing the gas; and
  • Whether there were flammable materials or other explosive substances nearby.

Gas pipe explosions can be considerably severe due to the amount of gas that is generally involved, as well as the fact that gas pipes frequently cover long distances. Such explosions can result in serious injuries, especially those related to fire, and significant property damage.

There are several factors which may cause a gas explosion, such as:

  • The soil around the underground pipes;
  • The configuration of specific gas facilities;
  • Flow, compression, and/or pressure of the gas;
  • Little to no gas flow over a long period of time; and/or
  • Substances, rust, or moisture in or on the pipes.

One of the most common reasons for a propane explosion would be faulty grills, or barbecues, as the line in the tank can be defective. Additionally, when the grills are exposed to high temperatures, the cylinders and tanks can build pressure which causes an explosion.

Another somewhat common type of gas explosion occurs at a residential home with gas appliances. Gas appliances such as:

  • Central heating;
  • Water heaters;
  • Grills;
  • Gas generators; and
  • Gas stoves can explode due to equipment failure.

Who Can Be Held Liable For A Gas Explosion?

Liability for a gas explosion largely depends on the specific cause of the explosion. It is not uncommon that the explosion could have been an unforeseeable accident in which no one is actually at fault. Generally speaking, there are two types of liability for a gas explosion: defective product, and negligence, which was previously discussed.

A defective product is a product that causes harm to a person because of a defect. The defect could be a design flaw, improper labeling, or defective manufacturing. An example of a defective product in this context could be a gas appliance that had a defect prior to the time it was placed on the market. In most cases, it is the manufacturer of the product who can be held liable for a manufacturing defect. It is important to note, however, that many companies hire a separate outside source to either complete production or perform some of the manufacturing steps that are involved in creating the product.

As such there are some instances in which it may be necessary to consult with a legal professional in order to determine whether multiple parties can actually be held liable for a single defective product injury.

Generally speaking, any party to a product’s chain of distribution can potentially be held liable for a manufacturing defect. While this is commonly the manufacturer themselves, others who may be held responsible could include:

  • The manufacturer of specific component parts;
  • A wholesaler of the product;
  • The distributor of a product; and/or
  • The retailer who sold the product to a consumer.

If a person incorrectly installs or maintains a product, such as a gas appliance, this can sometimes serve as the basis of a negligence claim. To reiterate, negligence is the failure to use the same amount of care that an ordinary individual would use in the same or similar circumstances.

Both product defect and negligence cases can result in a monetary damages award for the injured party. Damages are intended to cover expenses related to injuries, such as medical bills, as well as replacement or repairs of any property damage that was caused by the explosion.

Do I Need An Attorney For A Gas Explosion?

If you have experienced injury or loss associated with a gas explosion, you should contact a personal injury lawyer for help pursuing a lawsuit in order to recover damages. A local lawyer will be best suited to helping you understand your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific personal injury laws and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.

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