We rely on gasoline and other types of fuel to power our economy and our personal lives alike. We need fuel to feed our cars, our grills, our generators, our transportation system — the list goes on. But while gasoline and other fuel sources are indispensable to modern living, they are also volatile substances which can be extremely dangerous when improperly handled and contained.
Gasoline, propane, and other fuel sources are highly sensitive to factors like heat and pressure, and must be carefully contained. If an accident occurs due to a defective tank or container, these flammable, toxic substances can cause serious internal and external injuries. These injuries are not only physically devastating, but frequently lead to psychological trauma and financial hardship as well. Trying to simultaneously cope with physical and emotional pain while dealing with complicated and costly financial procedures can feel like a nightmare — especially when the accident was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party.
The Reiff Law Firm: Pennsylvania Propane Gas Tank Explosion Lawyers
If you or a loved one has suffered a catastrophic injury or wrongful death due to a gas tank explosion or fuel-fed fire, the experienced Pennsylvania gas explosion lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm can help determine the cause of the accident. Our product liability lawyers have more than 34 years of experience investigating numerous manufacturing defects, faulty designs, and negligently made gas tanks responsible for explosions and fuel-fed fires. Since 1979, we have won hundreds of millions of dollars for catastrophically injured victims and their families.
What Causes Injuries from Fuel Tank Explosions?
Gas cans, gas tanks, and propane tanks are meant to safely hold and carry different types of fuel. Properly designed gas tanks should prevent leakage, and use valves to release pressure from vapors that build up. But sometimes, fuel tanks are defective.
If a gas or propane tank is corroded, punctured, or improperly manufactured, or if a gas line is cracked, innocent people may be at a serious risk of injury from explosions and fuel-fed fires. Gas tank explosions and fuel fed fires often cause extensive property damage and severe injuries because they can spread rapidly and unpredictably.
If a vehicle’s gas tank is ruptured or cracked during a crash, even low amounts of heat can cause the gas to ignite. If enough vapor accumulates, the result can be a massive fireball explosion engulfing the entire vehicle, its occupants, and any nearby debris. These horrific fires can cause severe burns, permanent scarring, and disfigurement.
Automobiles, airplanes, trucks, and motorcycles can all be equipped with defective gas tanks. Alternately, the tanks themselves may be safe, but located in a dangerous area. While most modern vehicles locate fuel tanks in front of the rear axle — out of the car’s “crumple zone” — some vehicles place their gas tanks behind the car’s rear axle. This hazardous placement makes the gas tank prone to rupturing, and can cause a fire or explosion in the event of a crash. Some older models of pickup trucks actually place their gas tanks outside of the vehicle’s frame, providing virtually zero protection should the truck be hit by another vehicle.
Propane Tank Explosions and BLEVEs
It isn’t just transportation vehicles which suffer from defects — many types of machines and vessels can be affected. For example, many people have gas-powered lawnmowers and grills, and some have large propane tanks attached to their houses to provide gas for heating and cooking.
If a propane tank is subjected to heat, the pressure inside the tank will build, and a pressure-relief valve on the tank will open to release accumulating vapors. But if the pressure inside the gas tank builds too quickly for the valve to keep up, the tank can rupture in what is called a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion (BLEVE).
Although rare, BLEVEs can be extremely powerful, and have thrown people as far as 300 feet. Individuals near a BLEVE or gas tank explosion may be killed or sustain debilitating injuries, such as:
- Broken Bones
- Head Trauma
- Skull Fractures
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
BLEVEs typically occur when a propane tank is located too close to a heat source, or when it is installed in a low-lying area where leaking vapors can accumulate. BLEVEs and faulty grills cause around 5,700 fires annually, resulting in hundreds of deaths and serious injuries. The U.S. Fire Administration reported that grill fires are usually caused by malfunctions or mechanical errors like gas leaks, broken or cracked pipes, and corroded parts.
Fuel fed fires, gas tank explosions, and propane explosions often result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. The physical and emotional wounds alike can take a lifetime to heal from, and can completely alter the course of a victim’s future. When these terrible, life-altering damages are the result of another party’s negligence, recklessness, or other misconduct, survivors may have a claim to financial restitution.
Our Attorneys Can Help
To speak confidentially with an experienced Pennsylvania gas tank explosion attorney, call the law offices of The Reiff Law Firm at (215) 246-9000, or contact us online for a free consultation.