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Food truck explosion raises questions of negligence & liability

In densely populated cities like New York, space is considerably limited. This is, in part, why food trucks have become so popular. These mobile restaurants can set up shop for a few hours a time wherever hungry crowds tend to gather.

One of the downsides to limited space is the potential for a high number of injuries if and when an accident occurs. Some New Yorkers may now be wary of standing too close to food trucks after one of these trucks exploded earlier this week in Philadelphia. Eleven people were injured in the fiery explosion, including several who suffered serious burn injuries.

The incident is still under investigation, but authorities have determined that the blast was caused by an exploding propane tank. It was one of two tanks aboard the truck. At the time of the explosion, the truck was parked in a neighborhood containing both businesses and homes. Security-camera footage shows the entire area around the truck being briefly engulfed in flames following the explosion.

The two victims with the most serious injuries were the mother and daughter who had been working on the food truck. They suffered burns “across a substantial portion of their bodies,” according to news reports. But nine others in the area were also injured in the blast, including two who were hospitalized.

Authorities have said that the first priority is to determine whether the explosion was an accident or the result of foul play. If it is ruled an accident, there will no doubt be other important questions that need answering. Could the accident have been prevented? Were the food truck owners negligent in their handling and storage of the propane tanks? Will injured victims be able to pursue compensation?

At the very least, we must hope that this incident serves as a cautionary tale for all mobile vendors in major cities. In densely populated areas, safety must be an even higher priority than it would otherwise be.

Source: Fox News, "Philadelphia food truck explosion hurts at least 11, 2 critically," July 1, 2014

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