Rick Zahner, Cheryl Zahner Injured In Glenville Explosion Accident That May Have Involved Propane Clothes Dryer At Their Home Along Sacandaga Road
SCHENECTADY COUNTY, NEW YORK (August 24, 2021) – A husband and wife identified as Rick Zahner and Cheryl Zahner were injured in an explosion at their home along Sacandaga Road.
Glenville police officials are saying that the explosion took place on Sunday. Rick Zahner and Cheryl Zahner were in their home when there was an explosion at or near the propane clothes dryer located in the basement.
The force of the blast was so violent that it blew out a large portion of the house. It also made the house structurally unsafe. Unfortunately, the house may need to be demolished according to city regulators.
Rick Zahner and Cheryl Zahner were taken to the hospital on Sunday to receive treatment. Miraculously, they were both able to walk out of the hospital on Monday.
Investigators believe that a propane clothes dryer was likely the source of the explosion. But that has not been confirmed at this time. A full investigation will need to be conducted, but the structural instability of the house is making that difficult.
The couple took to Facebook to describe how they lost everything in this accident. You can help support Rick Zahner and Cheryl Zahner by donating to their GoFundMe.
According to the GoFundMe page being organized by Victoria Wilhelm and Dawn Hinchman, “Any funds raised will go towards the necessities they need such as food and clothing as well as medical bills, hotel stays and care for their 3 dogs and bird.”
Liability In Glenville Gas Explosion Accidents
Home explosions may seem like a freak occurrence. But they are all too common. According to one report from the National Fire Prevention Association, there are an average of 4,200 structural fires per year due to the ignition of natural gas. These explosions result in an average of 40 deaths per year. For any explosion to occur there must be an ignition source and a fuel source.
- Ignition Sources: There are literally hundreds of potential ignition sources that could trigger an explosion. These could include an open flame such as a pilot light. Even switching on a light inside of a home could ignite some gases. In rare circumstances static electricity could serve as an ignition source.
- Fuel Sources: Gases are among the most common fuel sources for explosions. This is in part because they are so combustible. Propane can leak for many different reasons including faulty tanks, defective control valves or malfunctioning equipment.
There could be numerous sources of liability for any natural gas explosion. For example, a gas provider could be liable for an explosion if they failed to maintain their lines in a reasonably safe manner. Gas companies have a duty to keep their lines safe and to do periodic maintenance on those lines in order to uncover potential problems.
The company that installed an appliance like a gas dryer could be liable if that appliance was installed negligently. All appliances must be properly hooked up to the gas sources that they run off of. If a wrong bolt or connecting valve is used this could easily trigger a leak. Even if the right equipment is used but it isn’t installed tight enough it could become loose over time and lead to an explosion.
A company that manufactured an appliance like a propane clothes dryer could be held liable through a product liability claim. Companies that create products for the general public must ensure that those products are reasonably safe. They must also warn consumers about the non-obvious dangers of those products. Generally speaking, plaintiffs can assert three different types of actions for a product liability claim.
- Negligence (PJI 2:125);
- Strict Products Liability (PJI 2:120)
- Breach of Warranty (PJI 2:140)
In either a negligence or strict liability case the plaintiff will need to argue the product was either defective or unreasonably safe. The plaintiff’s burden of proof is to show that either:
- Design Defect:
- The product was unreasonably safe and created a substantial risk of injury;
- It was feasible for the product to have been designed in a safe manner; and
- The defect was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.
- Failure to Warn:
- The defendant failed to warn the plaintiff of the dangers associated with their product.
- Manufacturing Defects:
- A product caused injury by not performing as intended. However, other products of identical design do not fail.
Breach of warranty cases can be based on express warranties which could be found in an advertisement of product label. They can also be based on implied warranties relating to the merchantability or fitness of a product. For example, it is implied for any product that it lacks design defects, marketing defects or improper labels. Products do not necessarily have to be defective to violate an implied warranty of fitness.
Victims of gas explosion accidents often suffer very serious and costly injuries. Even moderate burn injuries can require months of treatment and expensive skin grafts. Ear drum ruptures are also extremely common. Victims will typically not realize the full extent of their injuries until several months after an explosion. Psychological trauma such as PTSD are also common for survivors of explosion accidents. There are a number of steps that should be taken after any accident.
- Victims should seek medical care as well as follow up treatment.
- Photos of the accident site should be taken.
- Eye witnesses should be interviewed.
- All relevant evidence should be preserved! This is extremely important. If an appliance is believed to have been responsible for an explosion that appliance should be taken apart and examined by professionals.
- An experienced gas explosion attorney should be contacted.
Any person that is injured in a propane gas explosion may be able to seek justice through a civil claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. Sadly, gas companies and appliance companies will fight extremely hard to deny any responsibility for an accident. Gas companies will claim an explosion had nothing to do with them. In fact, that’s exactly what one gas company is doing following the death of a 92-year-old woman in Lackawanna, New York just last month. A gas explosion attorney can investigate the unique facts of your case free of cost and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating A Glenville Gas Explosion Accident
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our best wishes to Rick Zahner and Cheryl Zahner as they continue to recover. This was a devastating accident that completely upended their lives. We strongly encourage anyone that may have information about what happened to reach out to investigators. As gas explosion accident attorneys we remain deeply concerned by the sharp rise in these types of accidents.
There needs to be a thorough investigation for the sake of all involved. There are also a number of questions that need to be answered. Was the propane dryer involved in this accident faulty in some way? Was it properly installed? Was there a problem with the gas line leading up to this house? It is our sincere hope that steps will be taken to help prevent similar tragedies.