My children were burned as a result of a fire pit flare up at a friends home.

UPDATED: Oct 14, 2020

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UPDATED: Oct 14, 2020Fact Checked

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My kids and their father were attending an all day BBQ at a friend of their fathers house. Apparently there was a fire pit which the homeowner poured gas on causing a flare up. He did it again and it created a back draft and he flung the fire can towards my children, causing second and third degree burns on their legs and feet. They are three and four years old. We filed a claim with the homeowners insurance and were offered $4,999 for each child which we accepted. The next day their father decided he wanted to rescind and file a claim for 100K for pain and suffering. What is the likelihood of that figure being reasonable? What happens if the homeowner cannot afford the claim? Is gross negligence looked at? Can their father be held responsible?”

Asked November 30, 2016

1 Answer

The $100,000 figure for pain and suffering may be very reasonable. Pain and suffering is generally a judgment call in court and doesn't have set amounts. Because second and third-degree burns are so painful and leave long-lasting, visible scarring, a court would be very sympathetic towards the victims.

In a claim against a homeowner, their insurance policy is generally the first source of payment. Most policies include a general liability add-on that is well over $100,000. If insurance didn't cover the claim and the homeowner couldn't otherwise afford to pay it, the court would enter a judgment. A judgment allows for you to ask that the homeowner's wages be garnished or to make a claim against any property they receive in the future.

Gross negligence may increase the potential settlement including increasing the possible award for pain and suffering. Because the homeowner was already creating a dangerous condition by causing multiple flare ups, there's a good chance of a court finding gross negligence.

The father might be held responsible if he wasn't supervising the children properly. If everyone was gathered around the fire, the father might not have done anything wrong. However, if everyone was in another part of the yard and the children wandered off too close to the fire, the father might have been negligent in supervising the children.

Answered December 6, 2016 by Insurity

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