We wrote earlier about a recent event in Pikesville Maryland. This hit close to home, so we have been following closely. Early reports indicated two people are seriously injured. One person died. The number of injured people is not up to five. Cars in flames and a person was sent to shock trauma. Early reports suggest it was accidental.
WBALTV 11 reported: “Investigators said the man is a plumber who uses propane for his torch, Police said the man left a propane tank in his car, and investigators believe the tank leaked over the weekend and filled the car. Investigators said the man opened a car door, smelled gas and closed the door. The car exploded. The footage from the scene is devastating.
As personal injury lawyers, our minds race when we see tragedy like this. We know the toll this will take on the family who lost a loved one from this wrongful death. The General Assembly passed a law regarding wrongful death found at Courts and Judicial Proceedings § 3-904. It allows a family to recover the economic losses, such as lost income from the decedent. It allows certain family members to recover for their mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, marital care, parental care, filial care, attention, advice, counsel, training, guidance, or education. These cases require following specific rules and can be difficult.
This explosion seriously injured people too. KBA’s attorneys handle catastrophic injury cases all the time. We appreciate the complexity involved, and most importantly, the long term consequences for survivors. This includes medical care, wage losses, and pain and suffering. Cases may require special experts to capture the full scope of the injuries and losses.
The complexity of these cases concerns two parts of the case. First, capturing the full scope of damages. Second, proving liability may be difficult.
We wonder if there was a defective product at issue. That would raise product liability claims. Product liability lawsuits are challenging. A leaking tank makes us wonder if the design was defective. Perhaps there was misuse of failure to maintain the equipment properly. That could raise a negligence claim against the driver’s employer. That company may have been negligent in letting him bring the tank home or not making sure he was following safe practices in terms of storing it. Some seem to be pointing to the local utility. Claims against a utility are unique and may present procedural hurdles. All of this underscores why special care is necessary early in the investigation.
It may seem insensitive to think about lawsuits right now, but it is necessary. Investigators are doing their job under difficult circumstances. From our experience, investigators can miss important evidence during chaotic times like we see in Pikesville right now. Homes are destroyed. People were trapped. That makes figuring out the root cause a challenge. It also makes a critical step – identifying and preserving evidence – very important from day one. This is why potential defendants and insurance companies often have their own people involved right away. Doing so gives them an important advantage in later litigation.
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