Bus and Truck Gas Tank Explosions
In July 2014, a food truck parked along a busy Philadelphia street exploded. Olga Galdemez, 42, and her daughter Jaylin, 17, were in the truck at the time. Both were rushed to the hospital but later passed away from severe injuries.
According to a report by NBC News, eight other people were hurt in the explosion, including a 13-year-old girl and a 27-year-old woman who were both related to Galdemez. Fortunately, all of the others survived.
Investigators soon discovered the cause of the blast—a 100-pound propane tank sparked by a flame from the grill inside the truck. Unfortunately, yearly vehicle inspections do not always include propane tanks, particularly when they are part of the supplemental equipment on the truck.
This is just one example of an explosion that can occur on a bus or a truck, with deadly consequences. Fuel tanks on trucks and buses, as well as portable tanks, camper trailers, and gas tankers or trailers, can all explode under the right circumstances. Victims often require extensive medical care. Families of lost loved ones are left to pick up the pieces, often without knowing where to turn for help.
What Causes Bus and Gas Tank Explosions?
Fuel sources are extremely sensitive to heat and pressure, and therefore have to be carefully supported and contained. A bus or truck may explode into flames for several reasons, including the following:
- Defective fuel tank on the bus or truck
- Improper placement of the tank on the vehicle
- Defective support for the fuel tank
- Defectively designed or manufactured tanks that are prone to leakage or susceptible to damage in a collision.
- Defective fuel lines or fuel pumps
- Improper handling of supplemental propane, natural gas, or gasoline tanks
- Transporting these tanks in non-approved containers
- Improper maintenance of portable gas tanks
- Improper labeling or warnings on portable tanks
- Defectively designed or worn-out pressure valves
- Careless driving of a gas tanker or trailer
These and other factors can come together to cause an explosion either during a collision or when the vehicle is simply sitting on the road (as it was in the case at the beginning of this article). An experienced bus and truck gas tank lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation into your case to gather as much evidence as possible—all of which can be used to determine liability and damages.
Types of Injuries from a Bus and Truck Gas Tank Explosions
These types of explosions are extremely dangerous because of the force involved (it can propel people outward, causing them to collide with other objects), because fuel vapors can result in massive explosions encompassing a large perimeter around the vehicle, and the resulting fire is extremely hot and damaging to human tissue. Typical injuries may include:
- Cuts and lacerations
- Serious burns
- Broken bones
- Severe disfigurement
- Spinal cord injuries; paralysis
- Permanent disability
- Head trauma and brain injury
- Wrongful death
Victims of these and other types of injuries often suffer from emotional traumas as well, particularly if they are burned or disfigured and have to go through multiple surgeries to regain their appearance. Resulting medical treatments and therapies—potentially including plastic surgery—may be extended over a period of months or years, and can completely wipe out a family’s financial resources. Disability can also prevent victims from continuing to earn what they did before the accident, resulting in additional financial burden.
Who’s Liable in a Bus or Truck Gas Tank Explosion?
Depending on the cause of the explosion, the following parties may be held liable:
- The driver: If the driver who caused the accident was driving under the influence at the time, driving recklessly, driving too fast, or otherwise not following safety standards, he or she may be liable for victims’ injuries.
- The employer: If the driver was working for an employer at the time of the accident, that employer may be held liable, particularly if they were negligent in hiring the driver, or negligent in supervising him such as encouraging him or her to drive too many hours per shift.
- The bus or truck manufacturer: Manufacturers are responsible for designing and manufacturing gas tanks that operate safely during an accident. A number of bus companies have also faced liability for explosions of gas tanks on buses.
There may be other parties liable, as well, depending on the individual case.
How a Bus and Truck Gas Tank Explosion Lawyer Can Help
In 2005, nursing home residents were fleeing Hurricane Rita in Texas when a fire engulfed the bus they were riding in. The resulting flames killed 23 of the 38 residents on board. An investigation determined the fire to be caused by a mechanical malfunction that sparked a blaze in one of the bus’ wheel hub assemblies. The families of the lost loved ones later recovered $80 million in settlements, to be paid by the manufacturer of the vehicle, the nursing home, and the bus company.
Those who have been injured or who have lost a loved one to a bus or truck gas tank explosion may not be aware of the options they have for recovering damages. The personal injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana can help. We will help conduct a thorough investigation into the facts, to be sure we have all the evidence possible to create a strong case.