Lawsuits could be pending after explosion in Downtown Fort Worth – WFAA.com

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At least one firm, which has dubbed itself the “Texas explosion lawyers,” has already started advertising in Fort Worth.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Attorneys expect the Fort Worth hotel explosion, which injured 21 people Monday, will prompt lawsuits. 

Three days after the incident, at least one firm is advertising to potential Fort Worth plaintiffs using targeted social media posts. 

Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the explosion – a key question interested attorneys will have to answer before filing suit. 

“Everybody has a right to be safe,” Zehl and Associates named partner Ryan Zehl told WFAA Thursday. “Everybody has a right to avoid negligence, and everybody has a right to stay clear of someone else breaking rules, procedures, or laws that could cause injury.”

Zehl’s personal injury firm, which has dubbed itself the “Texas explosion lawyers,” often handles industrial and oilfield incidents. Fort Worth residents living near the explosion site might’ve seen targeted Facebook posts on Thursday, advertising the firm’s expertise. 

“All of those individuals who were there who were injured have strong cases,” Zehl said. “The question will be: Who will the responsible parties be?”

A handful of people who were near the explosion but who were not hurt have already reached out to his firm, Zehl said. Those people likely don’t have viable personal injury cases, he added. 

The hotel, its property owner, gas supplier Atmos Energy, and contractors who were working in the facility during the incident could all potentially be sued, Fort Worth attorney Benson Varghese told WFAA Thursday. 

Some of those entities could also potentially have cases against the other entities, depending on the investigation’s outcome. 

“For example, let’s say the Sandman Hotel is sued and the hotel thinks, ‘Well, Atmos may have had some responsibility here,’ they could both be a defendant and bring in a co-defendant,” Varghese, who felt the explosion from his downtown Varghese Summersett office, said. 

Several investigating agencies are still trying to determine what caused the explosion. There is no evidence the incident was intentional, police say. 

“The individuals don’t just have economic damages,” Zehl said. “That’s unique to personal injury cases, where they’re going to have mental anguish, pain and suffering, physical disfigurement, and the inability to do the things they loved doing before.”

If there’s evidence of negligence, Varghese says any responsible parties could also be sued for punitive damages. 

Interested law firms’ investigators are now trying to identify victims, witnesses, and agencies currently collecting evidence that could be used at a trial. 

“It really comes down to: What is the source of that gas leak, why did it happen, could it have been anticipated?” Zehl said. 

“Somewhere along the line, there was a failure – and we’ve got to figure out what the failure was and then hold the folks accountable, not only for the victims themselves, but to ensure there aren’t future victims,” Varghese concluded. 

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