About 450,000 people every year suffer some kind of burn injury that requires medical treatment, according to the American Burn Association. Many burn injuries occur in fires and explosions that break out in homes, workplaces or automobiles.
In most cases, fires are caused by someone’s negligence, including acts that directly cause a fire or lead to conditions that cause a fire or explosion. Those who suffer serious burn injuries face intensive medical treatment as well as surgery and rehabilitative therapy over the course of a long recovery.
The lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, assist burn injury victims and their families in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and throughout New York State who have been injured in fires and explosions caused by others’ negligence. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist with your recovery.
- 1 How Fires and Explosions Injure Albany, New York Residents
- 2 Accidents
- 3 Product Defects
- 4 Improper Maintenance
- 5 Negligent Storage
- 6 Vehicle Fires
- 7 Workplace Negligence
- 8 We Investigate to Determine Causes of Fire and Explosions
- 9 Gas Can and Gas Tank Explosions
- 10 Contact Our New York State Burn Injury Attorneys
How Fires and Explosions Injure Albany, New York Residents
In addition to property damage, fires and explosions can cause a wide variety of bodily injuries, including:
- Tissue damage from burns that may be fatal
- Concussions that may be caused by being thrown or hit by a flying object
- Throat and lung damage or asphyxiation from inhaling smoke or toxic gas.
There are many reasons why a fire may break out or a combustible material may ignite and explode. Unfortunately, the carelessness of others or negligence of a manufacturer is too often the cause. Fires and explosions frequently arise due to:
Improper use or supervision of an open flame or hot appliance leads to many injuries. Examples are:
- Cooking accidents
- Allowing lit candles to burn down or tip over
- Burning debris without proper precautions
- Children playing with matches or a lighter
- Smoking in bed
- Leaving a stove, oven, space heater or other heat source on for too long.
If an accelerant such as gasoline or another fuel is added to an open fire, it can cause an explosion.
Consumer products such as ovens, space heaters, clothes dryers or an electrical appliance can create heat that can cause fires if it the heat is not properly contained. Investigations into structure fires often trace the origin of a fire to flaws in design or manufacturing of consumer products or find that the product did not contain sufficient warning or instruction for the consumer to use it safely.
Some fires and explosions occur because an appliance that could start a fire was not safely maintained. Clothes dryers, for example, cause about 2,900 residential fires each year, the U.S. Fire Administration report. These fires may result from the failure to clean out built-up dust, fiber and lint.
Defective maintenance concerns also extend to larger systems that create a potential for fire or explosion, including the electrical wiring of a building and public gas or electric utilities.
Fumes from oily and gasoline-laden rags can combust if the rags are improperly stored in garages or workshops. If stored near fuel for a fire, the results can be disastrous. Fires that start in garages tend to be larger and spread more than fires that start in other areas of a residence, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
About one in seven fires in the U.S. that require fire department assistance involve a vehicle. Most are caused by mechanical failure and originate in the engine, gear or wheel area of the vehicle. Insulation around electrical wiring and flammable liquids in the engine area are usually the first things to burn.
Workplaces of all types in New York have a variety of heat sources, sparks, open flame, flammable gases, chemicals and other materials that create a potentially deadly environment. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), N.Y. labor laws and the N.Y. Industrial Code impose numerous work site requirements to prevent fires and explosions.
We Investigate to Determine Causes of Fire and Explosions
After a fire or an explosion that results in serious injury, an independent investigation can help you determine how the accident occurred and who may be liable for it.
For example, a landlord at an apartment complex could be responsible for lax maintenance or improper storage of combustible material that causes a fire (as well as for failing to provide working smoke detectors). At a work site, employers or vendors are accountable for adherence to safety regulations. Manufacturers could be held responsible if design and manufacturing defects make their products unsafe.
Determining who is responsible for a fire requires technical forensic work. It also requires investigation beyond what the local fire department is capable of handling or has the time and motivation to do.
At Powers & Santola, our attorneys work with forensic experts to get to the root cause of fires and explosions that have injured our clients.
Depending on how and why a fire or explosion occurred, those who have been injured may be able to seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit against the person or organization responsible. A lawsuit could seek funds to assist with medical expenses, including emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation therapy and ongoing medical needs. A lawsuit could also seek compensation for lost income, property damage, pain, suffering and other losses.
Gas Can and Gas Tank Explosions
Gasoline is probably the most combustible – and dangerous – product that people use on a daily basis. Even static electricity can cause a gasoline can to explode. Other forms of gas used by consumers – particularly liquid propane gas for outdoor grills – also carry the risk of causing a fire or explosion.
The manufacturers of consumer products should know how their products may be dangerous if used as intended. They have a duty to mitigate the danger through product design or an adequate warning to consumers. When they fail to meet this obligation, and a consumer is injured, the manufacturer may be liable.
The lawyers of Powers & Santola, LLP, know how to pursue full and fair compensation for injuries and other losses caused by a gas can or gas tank explosion. If you have been injured in an accident involving these products in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, or elsewhere in New York State, contact us today for a free case review.
A Simple Plastic Device Can Stop Gas Can Explosions
A full gas can is a potential bomb. A single spark can ignite gasoline fumes and cause an explosion. Gasoline-related burns are responsible for 13,000 to 15,000 emergency room visits every year, the American Burn Association reports.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has reported on fires that occur when attempting to fill portable gasoline containers – those familiar red gas cans – in the backs of pickup trucks equipped with plastic bed liners or in cars with carpeted surfaces. These fires and so-called “flashback” explosions can result from the buildup of static electricity and a single spark. Serious burns and other injuries may result.
NBC News reported in early 2014 that gas can explosions could actually be prevented if manufacturers made them with a simple plastic device known as a flame arrester. The devices are pieces of mesh or disks with holes. If inserted into the can’s spout, the flame arrester can stop flame from spreading into the cans.
NBC said the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has evidence dating to 2007 which shows that flame arresters are a possible solution to flashback explosions. Indeed, a CPSC memo readily available on the web says, “Flame arresters are not a new technology. They have been installed in gasoline safety cans often used in occupational settings for many years.” Why aren’t these safety devices installed in all gas containers?
Guards against LP Tank Explosion Are Required
In home fires in which the first material ignited is either natural gas or LP gas, the equipment most likely involved is a grill, hibachi or barbecue, the American Fire Protection Association reports. A U.S. Fire Association study of gas grill fires found that 43 percent were caused by some kind of mechanical failure such as a part failure, leak, break or lack of maintenance.
Larger LP gas tanks are used in homes to provide heat through whole-house systems or gas log fireplaces.
Since 2002, all LP gas tanks being refilled for consumers to use with their barbecue grills must have an over-fill prevention device (OPD) to prevent propane leaks that can cause fires and explosions. The device shuts off the flow of gas to a cylinder after 80 percent capacity has been reached. This limits the potential for release of expanded gas when the cylinder is heated.
Many propane dealers retrofitted older cylinders with an OPD. Only propane gas tanks that have valve handles with three “lobes” (prongs) should be sold or refilled. Older tanks that have valve handles with five prongs are not safe.
Older LP tank and gas grill standards require:
- A device to limit the flow of gas if the hose ruptures;
- A mechanism to shut off the grill if it overheats
- A device to stop the flow of gas if the connection between the tank and grill is not leak-proofed.
If any of these devices are missing or faulty on a grill or LP gas tank, an issue of liability arises after a fire or injury. An LP gas distributor should no longer use or distribute outdated tanks and should be responsible for the quality of any retrofitting work it has done.
Contact Our New York State Burn Injury Attorneys
If you or your loved one has have suffered a serious injury from a fire or explosion caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced burn injury attorneys of Powers & Santola, LLP, can help you. Contact us today to discuss your case in a free initial consultation.
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