According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2006 and 2010 there were an average of 8,600 home fires involving propane tank explosion required fire department response, resulting in an average of 10 deaths, 140 injuries, and $75 million in property damage each year. The vast majority of these fires were from gas grills (83%), or 7,100 home fires per year.
In addition to propane tank fires occurring from gas grills, propane tank explosions and fires also occur as the result of propane used to heat homes and water heaters.
In recent years, propane tanks have been used in the manufacture of methamphetamine at illegal meth labs as storage for anhydrous ammonia, which can ruin the propane tank valves. When these tanks recycled, the valve may have become defective and dangerous. If defective tanks are not removed from the supply system when they are recycled and filled, they may pose a risk of explosion to innocent tank purchasers.
Propane tanks involved in explosions can involve small tanks, such as those commonly used for outdoor grills, or tanks containing thousands of gallons of propane. In the case of larger propane tank explosions, an explosion at the Herrig Brothers farm in Albert City, Iowa in 1998 killed two firefighters and injured 7 other first responders.
Liability in a Propane Tank Explosion
The facts and circumstances of each propane tank explosion will need to be carefully investigated in order to determine who may be liable. The following is a list of potentially liable persons or companies, depending upon the type of explosion involved:
- The manufacturers of defective propane tanks, if the tank itself is defective in some way,
- The manufacturer of parts that are used to make the propane tank if such parts are defective, such as the shut-off valve,
- Anyone causing the propane tank to become ruptured or to be subject to fire,
- Companies who recycle tanks, if the tanks are defective and not properly removed from the supply chain,
- Anyone filling a propane tank, if the person failed to securely close the tank, and any company legally responsible for such person, such as a gas station,
- Sellers, including retailers and wholessalers, of defective propane tanks,
- Those responsible for the installation of propane tanks, if such installation was defective,
- Companies and individuals storing propane tanks on their property, if a propane tank explosion or fire harms others.
As an experienced personal injury law firm, we will thoroughly investigate propane tank explosions and fire involving our clients in order to identify all those responsible for their injuries and damages. In injury and wrongful death cases, we will often retain experts, such as accident reconstructionists, to help us determine how an accident likely was caused so that we can determine who is liable. If the case involves a defective product, we will want to understand the chain of distribution so that we can additionally determine those involved in the sale of the defective product.
Then, we initiate legal action against all those who we believe to be liable, as this is the only way in order to obtain full compensation for our clients.
How Can We Help You?
Unless otherwise agreed, we represent clients in injury and wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there is no fee to us while we are working on a case, and we are only entitled to a fee if we recover for our client.
Call us for a free consultation for your case so that we can explain the options available for seeking recovery after we learn about your case.