Philly Explosion Brings Food Truck Regulations to the Forefront

On July 1, 2014, one of two propane tanks located on a food truck parked in a Pennsylvania neighborhood exploded. The explosion injured 12 people, five of whom were immediately placed in critical condition, according to media reports.

The explosion in Philadelphia is not the first of its kind. In 2011, a similar incident involving a propane tank explosion and a food truck occurred in New York, and another incident was reported last year in California. Injuries resulting from explosions may include severe burns, broken bones from being thrown from the accident site, injuries from flying debris and more.

Causes of the Explosion

Philadelphia food truck was La Parrillada Chapina, which serves Guatemalan food. The food truck is licensed and was located in the Feltonville neighborhood in Pennsylvania at the time of the explosion.

According to authorities who assessed the damages and causes of the explosion, the explosion occurred when grills on the truck ignited vapor that had leaked from an unused propane tank.

Who’s responsible for the explosion?

Despite a 2012 New York City fire department study on food trucks that revealed dangerous potential causes of fires and explosions, not much has been done to monitor propane tanks of food trucks in either New York or Pennsylvania. While food trucks are subject to plenty of other regulations and inspections — including those by the Health Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles — neither department claims responsibility for additional supplemental inspections, including the inspection of propane tanks.

In terms of liability for injuries that people might sustain in the event of an explosion on a food truck, the food truck owner may hold liability. If workers are injured because of the explosion, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation. If a defect in a tank or other equipment related to the explosion is to blame, then the manufacturer of the equipment may hold liability.

Changing Regulations for Food Trucks

Currently, starting and operating a food truck in Pennsylvania is a fairly simple process. After an application and Health Department review, the assurance that a Food Safety Certified employee will be on the truck at all times and a basic inspection, a food truck is nearly ready for operation. In fact, the last part of getting ready for operation mainly involves maintaining licenses, such as a business license, a food establishment license, an appropriate driver’s license or a sidewalk sales license.

With the string of food truck explosions that have occurred in the past five years, some are wondering whether it’s time for stricter regulations and more safety oversight when it comes to food truck vendors. Rather than just a Department of Health assessment of food trucks, a look at the propane tanks and other mechanical equipment may be in order. Additionally, some are wondering whether these inspections should happen more frequently, rather than just at the time of the food truck’s license renewals.

If You’ve Been Injured in a Food Truck Explosion

If you’ve been injured in an explosion, seek the help of a personal injury attorney immediately. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations to pursue a personal injury case is two years from the date of injury, as detailed in 18 Pa. Const. Stat. Sect. 5524. Therefore, if you need to collect damages for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages, the time to act is now.

At Cordisco & Saile LLC, our attorneys can provide you with the legal assistance you need to file a claim and win your lawsuit. For help filing your claim and answers to questions about how to pursue a lawsuit and the types of compensation you may recover, call us today to set up a free case consultation at 215-642-2335