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Jonathan Rosenfeld
J.D

March 2, 2023

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Propane autogas, also known as liquified petroleum gas (LPG), is a readily available fuel used in many residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Propane comes in tanks of varying sizes, often used in everyday life for cooking, boiling water, heating, and drying clothes.

Propane explosions are uncommon but can cause severe injuries and even death when they occur. In most cases, propane tank explosions stem from the negligence of homeowners, users, or manufacturers.

Were you or a loved one hurt in a propane tank explosion caused by someone else’s negligence? If so, the personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you recover compensation through a propane explosion lawsuit.

Contact our burn injury lawyers at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation to learn more about your legal options.

Legal Representation for Propane Explosions

What is Propane Gas Used For?

Propane gas is created during natural gas processing and oil refining. It is pressurized and stored as a liquid in steel tanks and cylinders. The liquid converts back into gas vapor when pressure is released from the vessel, such as when a user turns on a propane gas appliance.

Propane has hundreds of uses. In the home, it can be used for heating, cooking, boiling water, and drying clothes. For businesses, propane can cure paint, fuel boilers, run irrigation pumps, and refrigerate. It is an accessible and inexpensive fuel for restaurants, auto shops, farms, hotels, etc.

Can Propane Tanks Explode?

Yes, a propane tank can explode, but it is uncommon. Propane containers have safety devices to prevent ruptures, explosions, and accidents. However, explosions can happen when a tank is defective or a user doesn’t follow the safety guidelines.

How Often Do Propane Explosions Occur?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 600 propane explosions occur yearly, causing injuries to about 30 people.

What Causes Propane Tank Explosions?

Propane is a combustible material used for generating power and flames. When handled properly, propane tanks are safe. However, accidents can happen for the following reasons:

  • Propane Leaks: Propane can escape into the air when the tank is open. If the gas comes in contact with a flame or is exposed to high temperatures, the tank may catch fire or explode. In its base form, propane has no odor, so manufacturers add ethyl mercaptan to propane its distinctive rotten egg smell, which can warn people of leaks.
  • Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE): A propane tank explosion can occur when the pressure inside the tank exceeds what it can safely vent. The tank can burst open when stress accumulates, and if a source of heat or ignition is nearby, the tank will explode.

A BLEVE  usually happens when the tank is exposed to extreme heat, causing the liquid propane to expand and pressure to build up. BLEVEs are extremely rare and only occur in situations wherein there is continuous extreme heat, such as a house fire.

  • Sun Exposure: Even rarer than a BLEVE is a propane tank explosion caused by sun exposure. If a tank is left out in extreme heat, the pressure inside the tank will accumulate, increasing the risk of a blast. However, tank temperatures need to reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a tank to rupture, and only small 20lb tanks are usually affected.

It takes specific circumstances for a propane tank explosion to occur. In terms of personal injury, a user or owner would have to be extremely negligent to cause a tank to rupture.

How Can Negligence Cause a Propane Explosion?

A propane explosion can be caused by the negligence of:

Property Owners

Many landowners have propane tanks, usually using them for cooking and grilling. A propane explosion can occur when a property owner:

  • Leaves the valve open, causing a propane leak
  • Places a tank under the extreme heat of the sun
  • Fails to check connections and hoses for leaks
  • Fails to keep a tank upright
  • Stores a propane tank indoors, which is illegal and highly unsafe
  • Keeps a spare tank underneath a grill
  • Modifies or repairs valves, regulators, and other parts incorrectly

If you were injured in a propane gas explosion on someone else’s property, you could hold the property owner responsible under premises liability.

Manufacturers

In most propane explosion lawsuits, manufacturers are held liable for defects in fuel tanks. Under product liability law, you can hold a propane company accountable if the manufacturer:

  • Failed to provide proper labels
  • Failed to apply a chemical odorant (ethyl mercaptan) to make the propane smell like rotten eggs
  • Prepared or filled the gas tank incorrectly
  • Failed to recall defective propane tanks
  • Installed faulty safety devices

Contractors

Homeowners can hire professionals to install home tanks for fueling gas grills, boilers, and home heating appliances. Propane contractors must follow installation guidelines and fire code regulations to prevent accidents, such as installing tanks at least ten feet from a structure or property line.

A propane explosion can occur if a contractor:

  • Installs a tank incorrectly or too close to a building
  • Damages a tank while burying it underground
  • Fails to check connections, valves, and safety devices
  • Fails to correct improper installation or potential issues before turning on the gas
  • Refills a propane vessel incorrectly
  • Fails to inspect a tank for potential gas leaks and other issues

Common Injuries Suffered from Propane Gas Explosions

Propane is an extremely flammable gas. If a propane explosion occurs, it can instantly engulf a person in flames or set an entire house on fire within minutes. Thus, tank explosions usually lead to serious injuries, such as:

  • Burns: Once a propane container explodes, anyone nearby can suffer severe burns. A propane fire can be challenging to extinguish once it starts and catches on clothes. Hence, many victims often suffer at least second-degree burns on multiple body parts. In extreme cases, victims suffer third-degree burns, sometimes on their entire bodies. Either way, burns can cause severe skin damage and may be life-threatening.
  • Smoke Inhalation: If propane causes a fire in an enclosed space, victims can suffer from smoke inhalation, which, in turn, can lead to severe lung damage. Furthermore, the chemicals in smoke can cause a person to lose consciousness, increasing the risk of death in a fire.
  • Shrapnel Injuries: An explosion may cause sharp pieces of steel to fly in all directions, leading to severe lacerations.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement: Severe burns damage the skin’s structure, causing permanent changes in its appearance. If a person is severely burned in a gas explosion, their skin will likely not return to normal after healing.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury: In an explosion, a piece of steel may fly to a victim’s head and cause a traumatic brain injury, e.g., concussion, contusion, skull fracture, etc.
  • Wrongful Death: Gas explosions rarely cause death by themselves; the resulting fires are usually life-threatening. Once a gas explosion occurs and a fire starts, people trapped in an enclosed space can die from smoke and burns.

These injuries usually result in sky-high medical bills, making it necessary for severely injured victims to pursue financial compensation.

What to Do After a Propane Explosion

Fortunately, propane explosions are relatively uncommon. Nevertheless, it helps to know what to do if the unthinkable happens:

  1. Call the Fire Department. Contact emergency service immediately. You can attempt to douse the fire if you have a Class B fire extinguisher, which is appropriate for fires caused by combustible gas. Evacuate if the fire is spreading too quickly.
  2. Evacuate Everyone. Instruct everyone on the property to evacuate. Prioritize children and disabled individuals.
  3. Apply First Aid to Burns. Run burns under cool running water while waiting for help.
  4. Go to the Hospital. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Burns have a high risk of developing an infection. Going to the hospital also ensures you have a medical record of your injuries for your claim.
  5. Notify Your Insurance Company. If the explosion occurred on your property, inform your insurance company within 24 hours of the incident.
  6. Call a Lawyer. If you believe the explosion was caused by someone else’s negligence, such as the propane retailer or manufacturer, contact a propane tank explosion lawyer as soon as possible. They will help you identify who is legally responsible for your injuries and how much insurance money you deserve in compensation.

Can You File a Propane Explosion Lawsuit?

If you have become a propane explosion victim, you might wonder if the accident was your fault. However, gas explosions don’t happen easily, and unless you were extremely negligent in handling the gas, you are unlikely responsible.

Our personal injury attorneys can help you identify the negligent parties for your propane tank explosion accident. Possible liable parties may include:

  • A property owner
  • The tank manufacturer
  • A contractor
  • The transportation company

To file a successful propane explosion lawsuit, you must prove that:

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care to you.  Home and business owners must take reasonable measures to protect the safety of visitors and clients. Meanwhile, manufacturers are legally obligated to follow health and safety standards for the propane manufacturing process.
  2. The defendant breached their duty of care. You must show that the defendant acted negligently, e.g., unsafe handling, failure to add a chemical odorant, etc.
  3. You or a loved one suffered a significant injury. You must prove that you suffered substantial physical, emotional, or financial harm from the incident.
  4. The defendant’s actions directly led to your losses. Additionally, you must show a connection between the defendant’s negligence and your economic and non-economic damages, including medical bills, wrongful death, physical and emotional pain, etc.

What Damages Can You Recover from a Propane Explosion Lawsuit?

By filing a propane explosion lawsuit against responsible parties, you could recover financial compensation for the following economic and non-economic damages:

  • Medical Expenses: Out-of-pocket expenses for emergency transportation, hospitalization, medication, surgery, and future medical expenses.
  • Disability: Mobility aid costs, occupational therapy bills, loss of future earning potential, and other related damages if you become disabled from the accident.
  • Pain and Suffering: Financial compensation for physical and emotional harm caused by the accident, including physical pain, emotional anguish, and mental trauma.
  • Loss of Quality of Life: Financial compensation for quality or enjoyment of life lost due to your injuries.
  • Lost Wages: Financial compensation for income lost while recovering from your injuries or caring for an injured loved one.
  • Property Damage: Repair or replacement costs for personal belongings damaged or lost in the accident.
  • Wrongful Death: Funeral and burial costs, pre-death hospital bills, loss of consortium, and other related losses if your family member dies in the accident.
  • Punitive Damages: Additional compensation used to punish defendants for gross negligence and deter similar harmful behavior in the future.

Personal injury cases arising from explosions have varying settlement amounts because many factors, such as the victim’s age, occupation, and level of negligence involved, come into play. Your gas explosion attorney will determine how much you should receive in compensation based on your case’s specifics.

Propane Safety Tips

If you use propane in your home, remember the following safety tips to avoid an explosion:

  • Always keep the valve closed when not in use to prevent leakage
  • Never store propane inside the home; store it in a well-ventilated space away from the sun
  • Do not store tanks near a heat source
  • If you use propane appliances (e.g., clothes dryers, boilers), have them inspected regularly
  • Evacuate the home if you smell gas, then call your propane company
  • Never store a filled container in your car’s trunk
  • Do not try to modify or repair tanks by yourself; call a professional instead
  • Always keep propane containers upright
  • Check the connections and hoses for leaks; call a professional if you smell gas

How a Propane Tank Explosion Lawyer Can Help

A propane explosion can be extremely traumatic, especially if you experience severe injuries and significant property damage. Let a propane explosion lawyer ease your burden by allowing them to take over the following responsibilities:

  • Investigating how and why the tank explosion occurred
  • Identifying the responsible party and establishing their role in the accident
  • Calculating how much insurance money you should receive for your damages
  • Collecting evidence to support your claim
  • Filing your claim to the appropriate insurance company
  • Negotiating a fair settlement
  • Filing a propane explosion lawsuit, if necessary

Learn More About How You Can Recover Fair Compensation for Your Propane Explosion Injuries

Propane containers are safe when manufactured and handled correctly, making explosions relatively rare. However, leaking propane and faulty tanks can cause devastating explosions, often leading to catastrophic burns and massive property damage.

If you or a family member were injured in a propane explosion, the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC attorneys could help you recover full compensation for your losses. The lawyers at our law firm have proven experience in holding landowners, manufacturers, and retailers legally responsible for explosions caused by their negligence.

Contact our law firm at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form for a free consultation with an experienced propane explosion lawyer.

All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.

Our attorneys handle all accepted propane explosion lawsuits on a contingency fee basis. This agreement ensures you don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.

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