During the afternoon hours of Monday July 15, 2019, there was an explosion in a house in Murrieta, California that resulted in the death of one person and the injuries of fifteen others. According to reports of the incident, a contractor working on the house that later exploded reported a damaged gas line. Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) crews responded to the report of the damaged gas line and arrived on the scene to address the problem. The explosion occurred approximately one hour after the SoCalGas crew arrived. The deceased victim has been confirmed to be a SoCalGas employee. At least three of the injured victims are firefighters – who were already at the scene when the explosion happened. Information about the other injured parties or the injuries they sustained has not been released. Although the incident is still being investigated, a preliminary investigation has shown that the contractor that was working in the house failed to call 811 before starting to gig. The purpose of calling 811 is to protect the party digging and others from the harm that could be suffered as a result of unintentionally hitting any underground utility lines, such as gas lines. Contractors are required by law to call 811 before digging. The preliminary report also showed that there was not an open ticket for the work that the contractor was doing at the Murrieta property.
Understanding the Issue in this Unfortunate IncidentThe unfortunate event that resulted in the death of a SoCalGas employee and the injuries of ten others was completely preventable. As explained above, the contractor that was working on the house failed to call 811 prior to starting to dig. The contractor reported a damaged gas line after he had started digging – this means that it is possible that the contractor was responsible for damaging the gas line. This also means that the gas line wouldn’t have been damaged and the explosion would not have occurred if the contractor had followed the law and called 811 prior to digging.
Establishing Liability for this IncidentWho could be liable for the harm caused by the explosion in the Murrieta home? The information available about the incident so far points to the contractor possibly being liable for all the harm and damage caused by the explosion. In general, contractors owe a duty of care to their clients and any third parties; they must exercise a reasonable level of care to avoid directly causing personal injury or property damage. For contractors, calling 811 before starting to dig is part of the duty of care owed to clients and third parties. Therefore, failing to call 811 and take this important preventative measure before starting to dig represents a breach of duty. The breach of duty caused the damaged gas line resulting in the explosion. The explosion caused significant harm in the form of injuries and death. When the harm suffered by the victims can be directly associated to a breached duty of care, the party who breached their duty of care will likely be found negligent and held liable for all the harm suffered.
Could You Sue?Were you or members of your family affected by the explosion in Murrieta? If so, you will likely have grounds to sue and pursue a claim – with the goal of recovering compensation. The right to file a claim is based on negligence. You will need to prove that a party that owed you and your family a duty of care acted recklessly and breached their duty of care, resulting in a specific accident (such as the explosion) with caused the physical harm suffered. In other words, the victims would not have suffered any harm if the liable party would not have breached their duty of care. Therefore, you will likely have grounds to sue. For employees of SoCalGas, such as the deceased victim and any other employees who might have suffered injuries, it is possible to pursue a workers’ compensation claim – since the harm occurred while on the job. Workers’ compensation claims can provide victims and their surviving family members with a number of helpful benefits. Receiving workers’ compensation benefits, however, means that victims and their families are forfeiting their right to sue. If your workers’ compensation claim is wrongfully denied, you could sue. If you believe that the harm suffered is a direct result of the negligence of a party, it is essential that you seek legal assistance to learn more about your options. Without a doubt, you have the right to file a claim for the harm that you suffered. If you would like to learn more about you right to take action the harm that you suffered, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with the experts at Downtown L.A. Law Group as soon as possible.
Could You Recover Compensation?Are you eligible to recover compensation for the harm that you suffered? The answer to this question depends on the specific details of your claim; in general, you will only be eligible to recover compensation if your claim reaches a successful outcome. If you are eligible to recover compensation, how much could you receive? What type of compensation could you recover? Again, the answers to these questions depend on the specific details of your claim. In general, claimants could receive at least some of the following compensation:
- Medical expenses – compensation awarded for any medical bills incurred as a direct result of the incident
- Lost wages – compensation awarded for all the income lost as a direct result of the incident
- Pain and suffering – compensation awarded for the mental and emotional harm suffered because of the incident
- Loss of consortium – compensation awarded for the loss of the ability to have a normal relationship with the victim
- Funeral and burial costs – compensation awarded for the expenses associated with services after the death of a victim
- Punitive damages – compensation awarded as punishment towards the liable party
Understand the Statute of Limitations that Applies to Your ClaimAll claims are subject to a specific statute of limitation. A statute of limitations is a timeline that determines the specific length of time that victims have to file their claims. When claims are not filed within the time allowed by the statute of limitations, claimants will lose their right to sue; this means that they will also lose their right to receive compensation. Are you willing to lose your right to sue based on a missing piece of information? If you answered no, it is essential that you are familiar with the following timelines:
- Civil claims, such as injury claims and wrongful death claims, are subject to a two-year statute of limitations.
- Workers’ compensation claims, including injury claims and death claims, are subject to a one-year statute of limitations.