- November 28, 2022
- Attorney Matt Stoddard
- Product Liability
No matter how carefully we plan our hiking routes, douse our campfires, and secure our food against bears, there comes a point when most campers must trust our lives to the quality of our equipment.
As well as being common in houses and businesses throughout Georgia, propane-fueled appliances are particularly popular for use at campsites, and in mobile residences. Portable, modular propane setups are a convenient way to cook and keep warm without a connection to natural gas pipelines.
Unfortunately, propane comes with some serious safety challenges. It’s more explosive than natural gas. It’s also much heavier, meaning that when leaks occur, it’s easier for propane to collect in enclosed or low areas, instead of dissipating into the atmosphere.
These drawbacks don’t necessarily make safe propane use impossible. However, they do mean that propane companies, and the manufacturers of propane equipment, must be extra careful to anticipate danger and ensure that their products are as accident-proof as possible.
A Propane Explosion Recently Injured a Couple Camping in Murray County
On the morning of October 10th, at the 411 River Rest Campground in Murray County, a couple woke up and started making breakfast inside their RV. When they went to light their portable propane stove, the flame triggered an explosion, which blew out the walls of the vehicle.
Propane gas had apparently pooled inside the vehicle during the night, from a leak in the couple’s kitchen setup.
According to witnesses, the couple were able to exit the remains of the RV under their own power, but their injuries were serious enough to require an airlift to a nearby hospital.
Incidents like these are horrifyingly common with propane cooking setups, and they’re usually connected with an error made by someone other than the end user.
Explosion Survivors Often Have a Case Against Their Propane or Equipment Provider
In the incident above, it’s not yet clear where or how the propane leak occurred, but it’s possible to make a few hypotheses:
- There could have been a defect in the portable stove.
- If the RV had a built-in propane system, the gas might have escaped through a rupture in the line before ever reaching the stove.
- The propane storage tank may have had a slow leak.
- The tank’s emergency valve may have activated as a result of overfilling.
In each of these scenarios, liability for the accident would likely fall to the manufacturer of the faulty equipment, or to a maintenance company that improperly serviced it. That company might or might not be the propane company itself.
It’s also worth noting that the couple noticed nothing amiss before the propane ignited, which suggests that it may not have been correctly formulated. Propane companies, just like natural gas companies, are required to mix their naturally odorless product with pungent ethylmercaptan, so that customers can smell leaks before those leaks become explosions.
Sometimes, propane explosions are caused by a perfect storm of factors. It’s entirely possible that the stove, the RV, and the propane were all defective in some way. When pursuing accountability after an accident, it’s important to examine all angles, even after the first problem has been found.
If you are one of the people injured in the River Rest Campground explosion, or if your family has also been harmed by faulty propane equipment, reach out to The Stoddard Firm to learn about how we can help.