A gas smoker is an outdoor cooking device that uses propane as its heating source. These devices are also known as vertical propane smokers, and incorporate wood similar to a charcoal grill or smoker. The difference is the source of heat; instead of using charcoal briquettes, gas smokers use heat from propane or natural gas.
A vertical gas smoker works by heating a cooking chamber in which air circulates, heating food via convection. The hot smoky air both heats the food’s internal temperature and adds a smoky flavor.
Gas smokers may also be known as vertical grills. The smoker unit generally has a tray or bowl above the fire that is filled with wood chips in order to create a “smoked” flavor in the cooked food. Gas smokers are sometimes used when larger, more conventional wood fires cannot be used.
Some gas smoker grills have been associated with various accident risks. These can include, but may not be limited to:
- Tip-over risks;
- Detaching of parts, leading to a fire, specifically the gas hose;
- Explosion or other similar risks; and
- Smoke inhalation injuries.
These accidents can lead to serious injury and/or property damage. Injuries from gas smoker accidents generally include burn injuries, especially to areas of the body such as the hands, arms, face, and torso.
Who Can Be Held Legally Liable For A Gas Smoker Injury?
As previously mentioned, gas smoker injuries and legal cases mirror those of burn injuries. For civil claims associated with burn injuries, you would generally bring a personal injury lawsuit based on the legal theory of negligence.
Negligence is the legal theory that allows injured people to monetarily recover for the carelessness of others. A person is considered to be negligent if they were careless given the circumstances of the situation. In order to prove negligence, you must show that:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you as the plaintiff;
- The defendant breached this duty of care; and
- The defendant’s breach is what caused the burn injuries that resulted.
Some examples of negligence cases associated with burn injuries include:
- Product Liability: The legal theory of product liability will be further discussed below. In short, the company who manufactured or produced the product that caused the burn may be held legally liable. An example of this would be how if a faulty stove caused a burn injury, you could sue the manufacturer of the stove; and
- Work Related Injuries: Your employer could be held liable if they allowed faulty equipment to be present in the workplace, which is what caused your injury. You may also still have a product liability claim in this situation as well.
What Should I Know About Product Liability And Product Defects?
Liability for gas smoker injuries specifically can be traced to various parties. As previously mentioned, the manufacturer or distributor of such products can be held liable under the legal theory of product liability.
A products liability claim involves the manufacturer or seller of a product being held accountable for placing a defective product into the stream of commerce. Any party that is responsible for any part of the manufacture of the product can be held liable for injuries, just as any seller may be liable. A defective product is any product that is unreasonably dangerous when being used for its intended purpose, without any alterations or interference.
There are three types of defects that could result in liability to one or all of the parties that were involved in the manufacture and sale of the product:
- Design Defects: Design defects are defects in the design of the product. No matter how well the product is manufactured, or how thoroughly a consumer has been warned in terms of the dangers associated with the product, a defective design renders the product inherently flawed and could result in potential liability;
- Manufacturing Defects: A manufacturing defect occurs when the manufacturer assembles the product in such a way that the product is unsafe. Manufacturing defects will be further discussed below, as they are especially common in association with gas smokers and their related injuries; and
- Defective Warnings: Even when a product is designed and manufactured flawlessly, there could still be a product liability suit if there is an inadequate warning regarding the product. Defective warning products liability cases also include failure to properly instruct a consumer on how to use the product.
An example of product liability associated with gas smokers would be accidents involving a fire caused by the gas hose detaching. Liability may be based on a manufacturing defect legal theory, especially if there are issues with the construction of the hose or the materials used during manufacturing.
State laws regarding product liability vary. However, there is a set of commercial statutes in each state that are modeled after the Uniform Commercial Code, which contain warranty rules affecting product liability.
What Should I Know About Manufacturing Defects?
As previously mentioned, manufacturing defects are especially common in association with gas smokers and their related injuries. When a manufacturing defect is present, the product can become dangerous, unsafe, or unfit for consumer use because of the way in which it was constructed or assembled during the manufacturing process.
However, manufacturing defects are different from other products’ liability actions, such as a design defect. When a manufacturing defect occurs, there is nothing wrong with the product design. Rather, an error that takes place while the product is being manufactured is what results in the product having dangerous effects that leads to consumer injuries.
Another frequently-cited defect that is associated with a manufacturing defect claim is a warning label defect. This occurs when a business has failed to affix sufficient warning labels to its product before selling it.
Generally speaking, a defective products lawsuit generally occurs when a person was injured because of a manufacturing defect. There are many different types of manufacturing defects that can serve as the basis of a plaintiff’s claim. Some examples of the most commonly cited manufacturing defects that may cause harm to consumers include:
- Using the incorrect screws, bolts, and/or other fasteners on mechanical parts;
- Incorrectly attaching the parts of a product together;
- Installing improper or outdated components of an item;
- Using the wrong paint color when the colors were chosen for safety reasons;
- Incorrectly trimming excess plastic material from a manufacturing mold; and
- Installing electric circuitry backwards, or in such a way that will cause electrical shock.
Are There Any Legal Remedies For A Gas Smoker Injury Lawsuit? Are There Any Defenses?
The remedies that are associated with a product liability lawsuit generally include a monetary damages award. Damages are awarded to injured plaintiffs in order to reimburse them for their losses, or to compensate them for the cost of their injuries.
Damages are intended to cover the costs associated with medical bills and other such losses. In certain cases, a court may require the liable party to remove their product from the market, or supply replacements to affected purchasers.
In terms of defenses to be aware of, manufacturers or distributors can raise various defenses to product liability claims. An example of this would be how they may assert that the injured party somehow was negligent and caused their own injuries, such as if they did not use the product as it was intended to be used.
Another available defense may be that the plaintiff knew of the risks of defects, but continued to use the product anyway. An example of this would be if there was visible breakage or wear on the product. Some jurisdictions have determined that if a plaintiff is negligent, they may be prevented from recovering damages. Or, their damages award may be reduced. This is referred to as comparative and contributory negligence.
Do I Need An Attorney For A Gas Smoker Injury?
If you have been injured by a gas smoker and believe it is due to some product defect, you should consult with an experienced and local personal injury lawyer.
An attorney can advise you on your legal options according to your state’s specific laws, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed should you decide to pursue a lawsuit.