With warmer weather coming, many New Yorkers break out their barbeque grills. July is the worst month for BBQ accidents, as almost a fifth of the reported barbeque fires occur during this month. May, June, and August follow close behind.
Many times, BBQ accidents in New York cause a lot more than nuisance injuries. About half of the people hurt in these instances receive treatment in hospital emergency rooms. Typically, doctors must treat severe burns and other serious injuries.
The average injury-related hospital stay costs between $5,000 and $9,000 a day. Physical therapy, which is often necessary, costs almost as much. If you or a loved one was hurt in a barbecue-related fire or other incident, you may have legal options available.
BBQ Accidents and Negligence
Parties do not always go as planned. Sometimes, many more people come than the host anticipated. Other times, inclement weather, such as rain or extreme sunshine, causes a change in the physical layout. These are the two of the most common causes of grilling accidents in New York.
When people come over for a formal or informal party, they are usually invitees. These individuals have permission to be on the land and their presence benefits the owner in some way. In this context, that non-monetary benefit is the social interaction of the get-together.
As a result, the property owners have a duty of reasonable care. Essentially, that means they must go out of their way to make sure their guests are safe. That includes making frequent safety inspections to make sure everything is in order. Any lack of care could be negligence. And, negligent parties are liable for the damages they cause. Negligence is like any other mistake. Even though the harm was unintentional, the person must still accept the consequences.
The contributory negligence defense often comes into play in these cases. Essentially, the owner claims that the victim was not being careful and was therefore responsible for his/her own injuries. A somewhat related doctrine, assumption of the risk, may apply as well.
New York is a pure comparative fault state. So, even if the victim was 90 percent responsible for the accident, the victim is entitled to a proportional share of damages. Furthermore, the assumption of the risk defense involves the voluntary assumption of a known risk. Unless the grill was already on fire, this defense is probably inapplicable.
NY BBQ Accidents and Defective Products
Sometimes, the barbecue-related injury is not the fault of the host or the guest, but rather a defective product. Outdoor grills have been a staple for many years, so design defects are rare. But manufacturing defects are another story. In their rush to get products to market, manufacturers sometimes cut corners, and they do not much care if people get hurt in the process.
Either a design defect or a manufacturing defect can support a breach of warranty claim. The law implies certain warranties, and it is almost impossible to waive them. The main implied warranties are found in Section 2-314 of the Uniform Commercial Code. All goods must be:
- Of fair quality (there is no “law of averages”),
- Fit for ordinary use,
- Properly packaged, and
- In conformity with any affirmations or promises of the seller or on the packaging.
The misuse defense is a common doctrine in these cases. Most people know that it is dangerous to use a grill under a low-hanging tree, beneath an awning, or in an enclosed space. But not everyone knows that. Furthermore, a mere written warning is not enough. The manufacturer must also include images that conform to American National Standards Institute standards and warn against any foreseeable product misuse.
Unintentional or defect-related barbecue fires often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.