Natural Gas Explosions: Wrongful Death, Personal Injury, Liability and Insurance Issues

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration [EIA], Massachusetts consumes nearly half of the natural gas used in New England. The majority of the gas is used to generate electricity, but residential customers use more than one-fourth of the state’s natural gas consumption and more than half of the households in Massachusetts rely on natural gas as their primary source for home heating.

Natural gas is marketed as cleaner, more efficient and often less costly for the consumer than alternatives like oil.Natural gas is delivered to these homes and businesses through an infrastructure of pipelines, many of them aging, and leaks are not uncommon. It is the flammability of the gas that makes it a useful fuel source. That same flammability and explosiveness, however, is what can lead to explosions, fires, death, injury and property damage.

It appears that such an event happened in the Massachusetts communities of Andover, North Andover and Lawrence on September 13, 2018. Reportedly more than 80 homes and businesses were impacted and many were seriously damaged by the 60 resultant fires. More tragically, one person is reported dead after debris from a chimney hit the car he was in when a building exploded. At least 25 others were injured in the fires. While it will no doubt take some time to determine the cause and origin of the fires and explosions, reports indicate that federal safety experts will be investigating and that state officials have been looking into the gas supply system operated by Columbia Gas which may have pushed high-pressured natural gas into a low-pressure section of the network. Columbia Gas has been working to address its 8,600 customers in the area. As a result of the incident, 18,000 customers are without electricity and as of the morning of September 14, 2018 road access to the City of Lawrence had been cut off by officials. Many institutions, including schools and the state Courts have been closed.

In the aftermath of this event, there will be many who need legal assistance with the complex issues that will arise. Such events call into play issues of proof of cause and origin of the fires and explosions and as well as legal theories of negligence and, in some cases, legal rules that apply to ultrahazardous activities that can impact the pursuit of wrongful death, personal injury and burn injury claims. In addition, there will no doubt be many instances of property insurers dragging their feet in connection with paying resultant property losses. Having experienced counsel assist in addressing such issues, can make all the difference.

If you, or a family member, have been seriously injured, or are having a problem with an insurer related to property damage caused by a gas-fueled fire or explosion, the experienced lawyers at Heinlein Beeler Mingace & Heineman, P.C. can help.

Call for a free consultation.