Our Panama City fire injury law firm knows that a house fire can feel like a family's worst nightmare has come to life. The speed and intensity of a fire are overwhelming. People can suffer injuries due to burns or smoke, and the fire may claim the life of a family member, with children and the elderly at particular risk. Fires can also leave behind emotional damage.
A story in The News Herald reminded our team of both the potential danger of a home fire and the bravery of the firefighters who risk their lives to protect our community. Last month, on September 14, fire teams arrived to battle a large blaze at 303 South Norwood Road. Teams from Argyle Volunteer Fire, Walton County Fire Rescue, and DeFuniak Springs Fire all joined in the fight. When the responders arrived, they learned that the family was still inside the home. Firefighters located the pregnant mother and her three children, ranging in ages from two to six years, huddled together in one room with a dresser blocking the only window. Three team members, Randy Hatcher, Chad Nelson, and George McLeod, each rescued a child. Once the team took the children to safety, their mother crawled to a nearby bathroom and got out of the home through a window.
Several firefighters involved in fighting the blaze said the event seemed more like a movie than real-life because most fire events do not involve dramatic rescues. Hatcher, said this was the first time in his six-year tenure that he took part in rescuing someone from a burning building. In contrast, Nelson noted he had been to a number of prior fires where victims perished, and that this was the first time he was at a similar event where everyone made it out. Battalion Chief Bill May and Brian Coley, the fire chief for both DeFuniak Springs and Walton County departments, were also involved, and paramedic Ben Martin provided care to the mother and children before they were transported to the hospital. Several of those involved in the rescue will be recognized with awards in a ceremony at the DeFuniak Springs fire house.
Home fires can lead to a range of injuries. Burns are categorized by degree, from first-degree burns that heal in a few days and do not usually require medical attention, to fourth-degree burns that can damage muscles, nerves, tissues, and bones and may lead to death or require amputation. Smoke inhalation is a leading cause of fire deaths and can also cause long-term breathing problems.
In some cases, a civil lawsuit may be appropriate following a fire. These claims often proceed as a Florida premises liability claim. Property owners owe a duty to tenants and guests to maintain their buildings in a condition that is reasonably free from fire hazards. Hazards that can cause a fire include: unsafe electrical wiring and insulation; faulty appliances; presence of unnecessary flammable materials; and failure to provide required safety devices such as working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Where errors like these lead to a fire that causes injury or death, the victim may have a civil claim against the landlord, a realty company, or another individual whose negligence significantly contributed to the fire. Depending on the circumstances, injured victims may also be able to recover compensation for psychological pain caused by the fire.
If you are the victim of a Panama City fire, please call our team. Our Panama City personal injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation for your injuries. Whether it is via a Panama City premises liability claim or a civil suit brought under other principles, Wes Pittman has the skills and experience necessary to help fire victims recover money damages and move forward after a frightening event.