Many Missouri and Illinois residents report to their jobs every day, intellectually aware of the fact serious work accidents could occur but never expecting to face such a situation in reality. This is especially true when the work accident in question involves a serious explosion and fire. Workplace explosions and fires can result in severe burn injuries being dealt to unsuspecting workers. In the most serious of cases, a worker can actually lose his or her life, leaving behind dependent family members who grieve and may struggle financially.
Fortunately, there are legal options for such individuals. Most employers are required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance, which can provide reimbursement for medical expenses and even a portion of lost wages while a worker is unable to work. The surviving dependent relatives of an employee who is fatally injured while on the job may also be able to make a claim for survivor benefits to help provide for them when a loved one is no longer around to do so. Sometimes, personal injury or wrongful death laws may allow an injured victim to file a third-party civil lawsuit against the party believed negligent in causing a fire and explosion.
Recently, a serious propane explosion occurred at a trucking warehouse in St. Louis. The explosion resulted in burn injuries being dealt to six individuals. While none of the injuries were considered to be life-threatening in nature, one man was critically injured in the incident and three others also had to be hospitalized. Another two workers were also injured in the explosion, but refused medical treatment at the time.
Reports indicate that the propane explosion occurred while workers were in the process of loading cargo onto a tractor-trailer utilizing a forklift. At some point in the loading process, the forklift apparently ran out of fuel. One of the workers then replaced the old tank with a fresh propane tank, leading to what was described as a “heavy cloud” of propane leaking into the air. The tank eventually stopped leaking, at which time a worker started the forklift back up. The propane from the earlier leak was then ignited and an explosion resulted.
This incident, while undoubtedly a tragic accident, illustrates just how critical it is for companies to train their workers on proper safety standards, especially when they work with dangerous chemicals like propane. A failure to do so can lead to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) leveling fines against a company for safety violations. Regardless of whether such violations are found in a specific case, however, workers have the right to pursue the workers’ compensation benefits to which they are entitled.
It is not yet clear whether the propane tank or the forklift itself may have been defective in some way. If that proves to be the case, the injured workers would likely have the right to pursue a third-party personal injury claim against the fuel tank or forklift’s manufacturer in an effort to recoup the financial damages they have suffered. Burn injuries can be particularly painful and hard to recover from, so Missouri and Illinois workers who suffer these types of injuries understandably often wish to pursue all legal options available to them.
My St. Louis personal injury law firm can be reached at 1-888-586-7041, toll-free, to discuss these very legal options and how they could apply to a particular case. We have experience in representing clients who have suffered burn injuries due to propane explosions and fires, as well as representing surviving relatives of those who have been tragically killed in such work accidents. Please contact us at your earliest convenience to give your case the best chance of success. Whether you have a workers’ compensation claim against your employer or a third-party personal injury or wrongful death claim against another party, we can immediately jump into action to help preserve your rights.
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Sources: http://www.kmov.com/news/local/Firefighters-Five-injured-after-propane-explosion-in-north-St-Louis-270419421.html and http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2014/08/07/propane-tank-explosion-in-north-st-louis/