Natural gas is found in almost every home and business in the United States. Even though even the smallest spark can cause a horrific explosion and even the smallest exposure can cause severe medical problems, gas leak accidents are rare. But, when there is a gas leak accident, the injuries are often catastrophic and affect large numbers of people. Virtually all gas leak accidents are the result of human error. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a gas leak accident, you need to understand your rights.
Types and Causes of Gas Leak Accidents
Gas leak accidents either cause damage through an explosion or through breathing in the gas for a period of time. There are three different levels of gas leaks. Grade 1 is the most serious type of gas leak. The industry standard is to repair these immediately. In a grade 1 leak, the gas is already ignited, or is likely to ignite soon. If you can hear a leak, smell the super smell, or see evidence of the leak, it is a grade 1 leak.
Grade 2 and grade 3 leaks are less serious. However, they should be repaired as quickly as possible, within at least six months.
Some form of negligence causes almost all gas leaks. The most causes of gas leaks are:
- Defective equipment or pipes
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Poorly maintained pipes and connections
- Failure to properly inspect underground gas lines
- Damage to service lines or underground pipelines
- Lax safety environment
Often natural gas leak accidents occur at chemical plants and natural gas refineries. If a leak is severe enough it can impact entire neighborhoods. Lines can easily become damaged during construction if the proper precautions are not taken.
Gas Leak Accident Injuries
Gas leak injuries always require immediate medical attention. Injuries occur either as a result of contact or exposure to the gas, as a result of the gas being ignited, or as a result of being thrown from an explosion after the gas has ignited. Some type of injuries you may receive in a gas leak accident include:
- Chemical burns
- Fractured bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brain damage
- Neurological issues
Natural gas does not have an odor. But, companies are supposed to mix in a sulfur smell to alert people to possible gas leaks. If a gas leak is not detected, but is low level enough that it does not ignite, you could still suffer serious injuries. Frequent inhalation of natural gas can hard to detect because it passes through the blood quickly. Common side effects are feeling disoriented, sleep issues, and an inability to concentrate.
It is critical that you continue any treatments your doctor has recommended. Not only does this give your best chance at making a full recovery, but it also can help improve your injury claim.
Insurance companies often try and blame the victims for making their injuries worse because they failed to follow the doctor’s instructions.
Mass Tort Claims
In cases where there has been a large gas leak accident that has affected hundreds of people, making a claim can be even more complicated than normal. Cases with many different victims are sometimes called mass tort claims. The federal courts have special rules to deal with kind of cases.
The goal is often to try and get a group settlement. However, that may not be in your best interest. You will need to have your case evaluates by a personal injury attorney who has experience in mass tort cases. You will want a lawyer who will fight for your individual needs.
Depending on the type of accident, there may also be several different companies to blame for the accident. This usually means that different insurance companies will be fighting to blame each other for the accident to avoid having to pay out large sums of money. While most gas leak accident cases are settled before trial, it is not uncommon for these cases to spend years going through the court system.
Who is Looking Out for You?
Gas leak accident claims are complex, time consuming, and often require access to gas industry experts. You need an attorney who will fight for you and your family. You need someone who has experience in dealing with gas leak accidents and knows how to get you the compensation you deserve. However, finding the right attorney can be difficult.
We can help you connect with the right attorney for your case. Contact us today and we will work to connect you with a law firm that has a strong track record in dealing with cases like yours. Take action right away before it’s too late.