Gas Leak: Are Legal Animations Helpful in Trial?

A gas leak is one of the many incidents that is highly reported annually. With legal animation, the party at fault can be held responsible for damages caused.
Gas Leaks
Photo by Chris Haws on Unsplash

A gas leak is an unintentional escape of natural gas or other gaseous products from a pipeline or any other enclosure into any space where they shouldn’t be. 

Gas leaks can be dangerous to both the environment and human health. Even a small leak into an enclosed area can eventually build up to a fatal or explosive level of concentration.

Gas explosions have caused thousands of deaths over the years. Many of these sad incidents occurred when industrial employees installed or repaired natural gas pipelines.

What are the most common causes of a gas leak?

Gas leaks can be extremely hazardous. This is due to the elevated possibility that they will result in a fire, explosion, and perhaps even carbon monoxide poisoning. Some of them, such as carbon monoxide, are colorless and odorless, allowing them to go undiscovered for a long time. 

The main reasons for these leaks are listed below:

  • Faulty Piping

Most buildings have a network of pipes that traverse one another. These pipes supply gas to the pipe connectors on household or industrial appliances. 

This plumbing system may deteriorate or malfunction over time. The lines may get separated due to wear and tear or other pressures like nearby tree roots. Older buildings or homes frequently have poor piping, which can cause gas to begin to seep inside.

  • Poor Ventilation 

A malfunctioning appliance that produces heat could emit abnormally high levels of carbon monoxide as a byproduct of combustion.

Carbon monoxide production can also occur with larger appliances. However, a chimney or exhaust fan can reduce the risk of catastrophe. However, the building may begin to fill with carbon monoxide if the chimney becomes blocked or the exhaust fan fails. 

  • Appliances

Most residential homes and commercial facilities contain at least one appliance that runs on propane or natural gas. Some examples would be a gas dryer, fireplace, stove, or water heater.

The seals that join the pipes to these appliances might corrode over time. Proper care is essential to prevent the corrosion of these seals if they are to stave off a gas leak.

Using Legal Animation in a Gas Leak Case

Undetected gas leaks can spell disaster for anyone in the vicinity. Unfortunately, it’s very challenging to prove whether the leak was caused by a lack of maintenance or a design flaw.

Therefore, when a person becomes a victim of a gas leak incident, legal animation can be used as a reliable tool to depict the incident and its cause to a jury.

There are three primary categories that a gas leak case could fall into.

  1. Product Liability

A gas leak incident can be initiated by way of product liability if the fault is in a particular product. Thus, it must be proven that there wouldn’t have been a gas leak if the product in question functioned appropriately.

An instance of a product liability gas leak is Bitler v. AO Smith Corp.

The plaintiff was severely burned when a gas explosion occurred in his home. The cause of the blast was traced to the gas control installed in the basement water heater, which was manufactured by the defendant. The case was decided in favor of the plaintiff. 

  1. Negligent Installation of Gas-Powered Appliances

Another way a case may be brought forth is in the form of negligence in properly installing gas-powered appliances. In this instance, the company or person in charge of the installation will be liable for any harm. 

Legal animation can be used to show the incorrect installation process as well as the proper methods for the installation.

  1. Negligence in Maintenance and Inspection of Pipelines and Appliances 

The maintenance of channels and machines are essential to ensure they remain in working order. As demonstrated in the example above, legal animation can be used to compellingly illustrate causation.

Conclusion 

Ultimately, the decision is up to the attorney, but consulting a professional legal animator is always recommended when considering whether or not an animation is necessary for a specific case. However, animations can certainly help to bring clarity to any situation involving a gas leak.

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