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Yes. Most people don’t even know they are driving over a potential bomb. Many types of underground utility vaults can cause car accidents, especially in Los Angeles. 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 electrical shock risks to motorists, underground workers, and pedestrians.
I am attorney Michael Ehline. I am a former C-47 building contractor, a specialized professional 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 faced with such a catastrophic event while using the roads.
We don’t really think about what lies beneath us when we drive around. But tunnels, caves, sewers, and all infrastructure forms run across and underneath the roads. Placing a maintenance hole 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.
These nooks and 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, streets, and highways.
Although various safety devices have been created to help reduce the dangers of explosions in underground electrical vaults, drivers’ primary risks can still be fatal.
Over time, leaked or naturally occurring gasses can build up underground in or near underground vaults. As these high-pressure gasses build up, they must be ventilated to 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 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 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. Suppose an underground gas line gets damaged during the blast. In that case, 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.
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.
Amazingly underground vault explosion accidents are not uncommon in California. After all, the Golden State has an aging and dilapidated electrical infrastructure.
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.
Unfortunately, no statistics presently exist regarding car accidents caused by underground vault explosions. But the news media has reported on many.
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:
And the 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.
So now you wonder, who is at fault for these unintended blasts?
Well, for one:
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.
Above, we defined an underground utility vault 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. You need to know who to call if you or someone you love is 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 can 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 get in touch with us today.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.