Explosions occur when substances catch fire or react in a way that they expand rapidly and violently. Blasts in homes and businesses can occur in a variety of forms, from ignited flammable dust to steam bursts to natural gas leaks that come into contact with flame. The force of explosions is so immense that anyone nearby is likely to be injured, and property damage is often extensive. Assessing who is at fault in blast cases can be complicated, so getting an explosion accident attorney in your corner is a wise move if you’ve been affected by one.
Who Is to Blame for Explosions?
Plant and refinery explosions are common because there are multiple ways they can be sparked. Workers might be using impure or dirty chemicals, not following proper procedures, or even smoking on the job. In the pursuit of cost-cutting, some companies let their infrastructure get worn and run down. Others have shoddy oversight or fail to conduct regular inspections. In home explosions, where natural gas is often the culprit, people’s mistakes can also play a part. An unlit stove burner left on, for example, could cause an unsafe buildup of gas. In legal cases involving explosions, insurance companies will often cite user error, but oftentimes, a business or the gas company itself is to blame.
The Merrimack Valley Explosions
On Sept. 13, 2018, one man was killed and over 20 others were injured during a series of explosions in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover in Massachusetts. Columbia Gas had replaced some of its natural gas piping in the Merrimack Valley, but due to a procedural error, it neglected to transfer pressure sensors to the new system. As a result, excess gas was pumped through the pipes, and the buildup caused as many as 80 homes and businesses to experience fires and explosions.
Morgan & Morgan sprang into action, filing a class action against Columbia Gas, parent company NiSource Inc., and Bay State Gas Co. on behalf of residents who were forced to evacuate their homes. We also sought an injunction ordering Columbia to fix its infrastructure, implement safety measures, and pay punitive damages. Many of the company’s pipes were made of materials most susceptible to an explosion, according to the complaint. Many of these conduits were installed over 60 years earlier, before natural gas was even piped into homes. The suit further stated that Columbia had identified leaks in its distribution system nearly a year earlier but had not fixed them prior to the disaster.
Within a year, Columbia and NiSource agreed to pay $143 million to residents and businesses of the three affected towns for losses and suffering. The proposed settlement, subject to court approval, is separate from money paid for infrastructure repair as well as individual personal injury and wrongful death claims. “Our aim has always been to help the affected communities and to hold Columbia Gas fully accountable for the harm to the thousands of individuals and businesses in the Merrimack Valley,” WCVB quoted Morgan & Morgan’s Frank Petosa as saying. The plaintiffs’ co-lead counsel went on to say: “This settlement — reached in an unprecedented 10 months after the incident — will provide a full measure of compensation to thousands of residents and businesses in a transparent and expeditious manner, under rigorous judicial oversight.”
How an Explosion Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Explosions are among the gravest catastrophes, causing injury, illness, and death on top of often complete destruction of property. Insurance companies routinely deny claims or offer lowball settlements when blast victims are at their most vulnerable. Hiring a Morgan & Morgan explosion lawyer will take the pressure off and put you in the strongest position to recover the compensation you deserve. It costs nothing to get started, and we get paid only if we win. Fill out a free case evaluation today.