People rely on natural gas to heat their homes and water and to power their appliances. When it leads to an explosion, the results can be devastating. The explosion, and the resulting fire, put the lives of you and your family at risk and cause widespread property loss.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a gas explosion, contact Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP for a free case review with a Dallas gas explosion lawyer.
How preventable home gas explosions occur
Since gas is combustible, a spark– even from static electricity or turning on a light– can ignite it and cause an explosion. Some of the more common ways this occurs include:
- Defective products
- Pipeline damage
- Undetected gas leaks
Since gas cannot be seen, the gas companies put an odorant in it as a warning. If you enter your home and smell rotten eggs, do not light a match, start a car, or even turn on the lights. Instead, leave immediately and call the gas company.
Liability for Texas explosions
In Texas, liability for accidents, including gas explosions, is based on negligence. This means that a company or individual who breached a duty may be liable when that breach causes injury or damage. Whether a defendant may be liable for a home gas explosion can depend on the type of explosion and the role the defendant played—the following are some examples:
Defective products. When an explosion is caused by a home product’s malfunction like a hot water tank, space heater, air conditioner, or appliance– product liability law may permit you to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer or seller. If the explosion was related to faulty installation or careless maintenance– a service company may be liable. More than one party may be responsible for the damages, which may increase your likelihood of receiving full compensation for your losses.
There are several ways to prove liability for a defective product in Texas. It usually requires working with expert witnesses to determine what went wrong and what the defendant or defendants should have done differently. It is important to work with experienced Dallas gas explosion lawyers to help you meet your burden of proof in these complex cases.
Pipeline damage. Gas pipelines are sometimes damaged through carelessness. Contractors, excavators, and even homeowners who dig deeper than 16 inches in Texas are required to call 811 to find out where the underground pipelines and utility lines are placed. The call must take place at least two days before the dig. Utility companies in the area will send locators to the dig site to mark the approximate location of buried lines.
If a construction company or excavator fails to call or the gas company fails to accurately mark the line, they may be liable for the resulting explosion. A construction company may also be liable if the lines are properly marked, but the excavation is careless.
Undetected gas leaks. When pipes are aging or poorly maintained, they can leak combustible natural gas. Texas statute requires gas companies to follow safety standards to keep people safe. If they fail to inspect the systems or respond to gas odor complaints, the company may be liable for resulting damage.
If you were partly to blame for the explosion, for example, because you did not follow through on necessary repairs, your damages may be reduced. Texas allows a jury to determine the degree of fault of both the defendants and the plaintiff. Further, the plaintiff’s compensation is reduced by their share of the fault. This means if you incurred $200,000 in damages and were found to bear 10% of the blame, your award would be $180,000.
If there is reason to believe you may be partially liable, the defense may use this to downplay its own liability. Be prepared for this by speaking with a skilled Dallas personal injury lawyer who understands how to present your strongest case.
Contact us today for a free consultation
The Dallas gas explosion attorneys at Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP, is committed to helping people who have been injured by others’ negligence. Our legal expertise and strong advocacy have led to many clients receiving the settlements or judgments they needed to cover medical expenses, lost income, and other losses. Call us today to find out how we can help. Consultations are free and private.
- Texas811, FAQs, https://www.texas811.org/faqs
- Texas Statutes, Utilities Code: CHAPTER 121. GAS PIPELINES, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/UT/htm/UT.121.htm