BBQ Explosion: Why Didn’t Anyone Smell Gas?

Posted on by in Product Liability

Your loved one is in the hospital recovering from burns after being in a gas grill explosion. They remember lighting the grill for use. The next thing they saw was a flash and heard what sounded like a clap of thunder. The force of the exploding propane tank knocked them to the ground.

Before the explosion, no one smelled gas. You want to know if there should have been an odor from the gas leak. If so, why there was not.

This question is important because if the burns were caused by a defective or unreasonably dangerous propane tank, your loved one might be able to sue the designer or manufacturer in a product liability action.

Florida product liability actions are based on negligence or strict liability. The injured person must be able to prove the propane tank was dangerous and this flaw led to their burn injuries. They can include claims of:

  • Design defect
  • Manufacturing defect
  • Failure to label the product with adequate warnings

However your loved one sustained their burns, they don't have to pay for the cost out of pocket. We understand that medical expenses for catastrophic injuries can be exorbitant, and often people aren't able to work their regular jobs again. Let us see how much compensation we can recover in your BBQ explosion case.

Why Didn't Anyone Smell the Propane?

The propane was unodorized or there was odor fade. Propane is odorless, which means you can stand in a cloud of gas and not smell anything. Because any spark can ignite it, this would be an extremely dangerous situation.

Therefore, as a safety feature, a chemical odorant is added so that you can smell the propane if there is a leak. The odorant warns of a dangerous situation. In fact, it can be the only sign there is a problem until a spark ignites an explosion.

Ethyl mercaptan is the odorant usually added to propane. The odorant smells like rotten eggs or a skunk. If there is a gas leak, this smell is the first sign that there is a problem.

Types of Injuries Caused by Defective Exploding Propane BBQs

The most common injuries are burn injuries. These are categorized in degrees from first to sixth-degree burns. It is important to seek medical attention when suffering from burn injuries. Higher degrees of burn involve serious charring of the skin.

What are the different degrees of burns?

  • First-degree burns from BBQ accidents are common. First-degree burns are the least dangerous or hurtful, having the least amount of penetration through the skin.
  • Second-degree burns cause a greater level of discomfort. Barbecue explosions will probably cause second-degree burns or greater. Signs of second-degree burns include blistering of the skin. This usually happens when contact with the heat penetrates through the skin. Usually, those suffering from second-degree burns require medical attention.
  • Third-degree burns are those that penetrate through the skin causing serious damage. These types of burns can occur from serious prolonged exposure to heat or fire. These burns can be life-threatening, require extensive medical attention and cosmetic surgery.
  • Fourth-degree burns penetrate beneath the skin and lead to muscle damage. These burns are often life-threatening and will lead to death if not treated promptly. Often even those who seek timely medical attention die shortly after exposure.
  • Fifth-degree burns are those that penetrate to the bone. These types of burns are fatal.
  • Sixth-degree burns, much like fifth-degree burns, are unlikely to leave survivors. Unfortunately, they are so severe that they leave the body un-identifiable.

Burn injuries are unique and require special attention to future medical costs. Because of the nature of these burns, extensive medical care and treatment are required. Often this treatment extends beyond the regular or normal scope of time needed to care for a patient.

Depending on the degree of burns, your loved one will probably seek long-term treatment. This means that any settlement award or demand must include these future costs as well the immense amount of pain and suffering the victim goes through.

Determining Which Burn Accidents Can Result in a Claim

If no one smelled gas before an explosion, one thing we investigate is whether the correct amount of chemical odorant was added to the liquid propane or there was odor fade. Even when the correct amount of chemical odorant is added to the natural propane, certain conditions can cause the smell to dissipate. This phenomenon is known as odor fade.

Propane odor fade is a common risk with new tanks. To reduce the risk of odor fade with new tanks, companies are required to train their employees who fill these tanks to take the following steps to prevent odor fade. When filling the tank for the first time, the propane company must:

  • Purge the tank
  • Fill it to the maximum level

Propane odorant can react with chemicals in the tank's lining if the tank is not filled to the right level or infrequently filled. When this happens, odor fade occurs.

Our job as your law firm is to help you get answers. Because of its complexity, winning a product liability case requires an understanding of the science behind propane gas and a lack of odor or odor fade. When we figure out what happened and why, we use this information to plan a strategy for obtaining the best possible recovery.

For example, in one case, the company responsible for filling the tank did not fill it with enough propane. Propane leaked out and an invisible, odorless cloud of gas hung in the air. When the owner lit a match, the BBQ blew up, burning him badly and resulting in a traumatic brain injury. An investigation determined that the tank was not filled to the correct level, resulting in odor fade.

How Can The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary Help With Your Exploding Propane BBQ Claim?

An explosion injury victim grappling with the physical and emotional pain of a burn injury or another serious injury, will, most likely, not be able to resume their daily routine soon, much less return to work. This could place your family under great financial strain.

Depending on the severity of the burn injury, your family may need to pay for extensive medical care and treatment. We are here to help you get the compensation you need for injury-related costs. Burn injuries could cause:

  • Disfigurement and scarring
  • Serious infections
  • Lasting emotional distress

If your loved one's burn injury was caused by negligence, whether by the use of a defective product or by the action of another person, seek the assistance of The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary. To pursue justice, we can help you by filing a results-driven injury claim.

It is highly recommended that you seek legal help if you have never filed a claim before. You might not know product liability laws, and you might not adequately gather additional evidence. Our legal team will:

  • Gather your proof
  • Write your demand letter
  • Hire expert witnesses
  • And more

While your loved one focuses on recovering, we will do everything in our power to secure the compensation they deserve.

You must sue within two years of your injury. If you are suing on behalf of a now-deceased family member, first, we extend our sincere condolences to you and your family. You must understand Florida's Wrongful Death Statutes, which allow for immediate family or spouse to bring a claim on behalf of the deceased. If you have more questions about your rights, call our skilled Florida propane BBQ injury lawyer. Sean M. Cleary is dedicated to providing help for individuals harmed through the negligence or carelessness of another person or group. We have over twenty years of legal experience to offer your case.

Our job in cases like this is to find the origin and cause of the explosion. We then determine who was legally responsible, with a focus on what codes and rules they violated. With this information, we can formulate a plan for success in your case.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.