Some people love them, others are terrified by them. Either way, lightning
storms are a fact of life in Florida, and lightning strikes can cause
serious injury or even death. While Mother Nature can't be brought
into civil court, sometimes an individual or entity contributed to a lightning
injury or death. Our law firm can help victims hold such entities legally
responsible for their role in these tragedies.
Officials are blaming a lightning strike for a fire that destroyed part
of a double-wide house trailer located on the 200 block of Renoir Road,
DeFuniak Springs. As reported by Northwest Florida Daily News, the fire
began around 7:30 P.M. on Friday night when lightning struck close to
the breaker box in the trailer's utility room. Thankfully, no one
was hurt in the resulting blaze. Firefighters battled the flames for three
hours and largely contained it to the kitchen and utility rooms.
Civil Injury and Wrongful Death Claims Involving Lightning Strikes
At first glance, people might assume that those injured by lightning lack
legal recourse. Sometimes that may be true, but not always. In some cases,
a person/group neglected to fulfill a duty to protect the victim or otherwise
contributed to the likelihood of a lightning injury. A civil claim may
be appropriate under those circumstances, for example:
On October 2012, an 11 year old boy was struck by lightning during a school
football practice in Fort Meyers, Florida. He passed away a few days later
and his parents sued the school and the sponsoring church for negligence.
As the Southern Baptist Press reported, the suit settled for an undisclosed
amount with the family stating that part of the settlement money would
go towards preventing future tragedies including through the use of Early
Warning Lightning Detection Equipment.
On September 2001, a lifeguard died one day before his 21st birthday. Lightning
struck him while he was standing in shallow water and evacuating water
park patrons. The Tampa Tribune reported that the lifeguard's family
sued the waterpark for negligence claiming the failure to follow appropriate
procedure led to their son's death and alleging that the park delayed
evacuations despite warning from lightning detection alarms. The Occupational
Safety and Health Administration fined the park for serious safety violations
that exposed employees to the hazard of lightning strikes.
In July 2011, two Boy Scouts were hit by lightning in Utah, killing one
and injuring the other. As detailed by the Deseret News, their families
filed suit in September 2012 sued saying Scout leaders failed to consider
safety risks and had not been properly trained to recognize and respond
to weather emergencies. They also alleged the campsite was in an unduly
dangerous location and that the leaders exposed the troop to danger by
seeking shelter from the storm on a ridge instead of in the mess hall
that was only 100 feet away.
In Texas, a man died after lightning sparked an explosion in his home in
August 2012. According to NBC News, the fire marshal determined that the
strike caused holes to form in pipes that supplied gas to the home's
appliances. The family sued the piping company, suggesting they knew the
product was unsafe and that experts had long cautioned it posed a danger
when lightning struck nearby.
We did not find reports on how many of the listed lawsuits were resolved,
perhaps because they involved confidential settlements. Still, the number
of cases and the fact that most appear to have advanced beyond initial
pleadings supports the idea that people and entities can be held responsible
for contributing to the danger of a lightning strike.
According to the National Lightning Safety Institute, Florida saw 126 lightning
strike fatalities between 1999 and 2003, substantially more than any other
state (Texas was second with 52 deaths). If a lightning strike claimed
the life of a loved one or if you were injured by lightning and a negligent
individual or group contributed to the tragedy, you many have a legal
claim. Our attorney understands all aspects of Florida injury law. Call
to arrange a free consultation to discuss your unique case and your legal rights.