Jul 18, 2020

Underground Vault Explosions & Car Accidents


Underground Vault Explosions - Are These A Little Known Risk We Los Angeles Drivers Face?

Los Angeles Office Ehline Law Firm Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC 633 West 5th Street #2890 Los Angeles, CA 90071Yes. Most people don't even know they are driving over a potential bomb. Many types of underground utility vaults can cause car accidents. A utility vault is usually defined as an underground or subterranean public utility facility containing fiber optic cables, phone communication wires, water valves, natural gas pipes, or switchgear. Typically that gear is used for electrical or telecommunications equipment, for example.

Electrical vaults, or splice boxes, on the other hand, are switchgear vaults containing electrical equipment powering street and traffic lights, for example. Also found in these underground rooms are other utilities like circuit breakers, electrical cables, and transformers. Although underground vaults are preferred over unsightly and dangerous above-ground power poles strung with electrical power cables, they can also present many risks of electrical shock to motorists, underground workers, and pedestrians.

I am attorney Michael Ehline. I am a former C-47 building contractor, which is a specialized profession, requiring extensive knowledge of pre-manufactured, gas, and electrical related matters. As a lawyer, I have used this experience to assist people in winning millions of dollars in all manner of legal claims involving negligence. In the process, I have lobbied Congress on behalf of personal injury victims and gained industry-wide recognition and accolades for my service. My staff and I use this advanced knowledge to help people injured in obscure cases where other lawyers might give up.

Below, I will discuss underground vault explosions related to traffic accidents and what to do when or if faced with such a catastrophic event while using the roads.

An abstract industrial electrical vault cellar.
An abstract industrial electrical vault cellar.

There are many ways for drivers to get into accidents. Thousands of collisions occur each day on America's roads. True, many vehicle wrecks are due to negligent drivers. And some wrecks are due to terrible weather conditions. But occasionally, bizarre issues like underground vaults exploding, remain to be considered.

How Do underground Vault Explosions Happen?

When we drive around, we don't really think about what lies beneath us. But there are tunnels, caves, sewers, and all forms of infrastructure running across and underneath the roads. Obviously, placing a manhole cover - also a gas pressure relief point - along a publicly accessible road, is the most convenient, economical way to manage underground utilities. So roads, commerce, and public utilities go hand in hand.

All of these nooks, crannies from sewers, rain gutters, and other worker access points can act as high-pressure release valves, concentrating the blast of an underground explosion into residential areas as well as the streets and highways. Although various safety devices have been created to help reduce the dangers of explosions in underground electrical vaults, the basic risks to drivers can still be fatal.

Over time, leaked, or even naturally occurring gasses can build up underground in or near underground vaults. As these high-pressure gasses build up, they must be ventilated so they can escape from the vault. And if it's not expelled from the vault quickly, it can build up and ignite, blowing up an entire section of road, for example. Sometimes a spark from a faulty electrical switch or another piece of equipment catches fire or sets off electrical sparks.

The government has a duty to inspect, repair, design modify, and maintain underground vaults in such a way so as to avoid or reduce the severity of the potential high pressure, explosive forces in a vault accident. But even the best preventative measure or safety device cannot eliminate all of the dangers associated with underground vaults near roads.

When a vault under pressure cannot vent properly, the hazards posed by the explosion can spell disaster for anyone nearby. These risks include electrical shock, flying debris, and blast shockwaves. If a un underground gas line gets damaged during the blast, a secondary explosion can ignite, creating a maelstrom of horrors including severe burns, and deadly fumes that can quickly overcome a stranded motorist in the initial blast zone.

Electrical Vault Explosion Car Accidents Are No Joke.

Yes, it's true. This is no laughing matter. Such issues are more common than you might think. In April 2015, KTLA reported an electrical vault explosion. Fortunately, this scary event caused no injuries.

But then ABC Los Angeles also said that a January 2015 explosion caused a car crash in Van Nuys.

  • That blast caused severe damage to the vehicle.
  • The driver remained unconscious for twenty minutes. 

Amazingly underground vault explosion accidents are not uncommon in California. After all, the Golden State has an aging and dilapidated electrical infrastructure.

What is the Explosion Risk to California Vehicle Drivers?

So statistically, what is the risk of getting blown up? Well, such explosions carry a massive risk for drivers. And don't think a future spark won't destroy a car.

  • In fact, that blast could leave you with severe injuries or even death.

Unfortunately, no statistics presently exist regarding car accidents caused by underground vault explosions. But the news media has reported on many.

What Is the Risk to the Population Generally?

Tragically, there are people who remain unprotected by a vehicle chassis. Underground electrical vaults could be right under your street or school crosswalk. So many are at risk for terrible burns or death from these events.

Examples of vault explosion victims include:

  • Pedestrians
  • Bicyclists
  • School crosswalk guards
  • Motorcyclists
  • Skaters
  • Joggers
  • Building occupants

And these above are just some of the potential victims. When an explosion takes place in a crowded city like L.A., it could lead to mass casualties.

Who Must Pay You For Your Vault Explosion Accident?

So now you wonder, who is at fault for these unintended blasts?

Well, for one:

  • If public agencies or private companies don't properly maintain these vaults, they remain liable for your injuries and damages.

This is because when an organization takes on the responsibility of handling such infrastructure, there is a clear need to keep the public from any potential harm. Without regular maintenance or construction, these agencies could be held responsible.

Hire a Trained Legal Expert for Your Underground Vault Explosion Car Crash.

Above we defined what an underground utility vault is, and explained the types of underground vaults located near the roads. After, we explained how explosions and electrocutions can harm motorists, and why they happen. Now, you need to know who to call if you or someone you love was injured in a subterranean vault explosion accident. If you have been involved in a vault explosion accident, a skilled legal expert is your best bet. Michael Ehline has handled similar cases before. This car accident lawyer is experienced in protecting drivers. He has handled severe infrastructure accidents in the past. Ehline and his team will be able to determine who is responsible for these errors. So now they can empower you with the evidence you need to know how best to proceed.

Ehline Law offers free, no-pressure consultations and works on contingency. So we are not asking for any money unless we recover for you. We answer the phone or email 24/7. For more information, please contact us today.

Need to schedule an appointment for legal advice in a city near you? Reach out to a Los Angeles, California personal injury lawyer specialist near you or another location or practice area as follows:

Torrance wrongful death lawyer, Torrance car accident lawyer, Torrance motorcycle accident lawyer.

Need a civil injury lawyer closer to you? Reach out to a:

Bus Accident lawyer in Newport Beach, CA, Redondo Beach Bicycle Pathway Accident Lawyers, Marina del Rey, CA accident lawyers near you.

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