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Grilling Gone Wrong: When BBQ Accidents Lead to Personal Injury Claims

Town Law Publishing Aug. 14, 2023

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The aroma of sizzling burgers, the delightful sound of chatter among family and friends, and the welcoming warmth of summer – there's nothing quite like a backyard barbecue. Grilling is an American pastime, synonymous with holidays, gatherings, and sunny weekends. But as idyllic as it sounds, barbecues can sometimes go awry, resulting in accidents that may lead to personal injury claims.

The Startling Statistics: Grilling Accidents in Numbers

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that grilling accidents account for thousands of injuries each year, with July being the peak month for such incidents. From minor burns to catastrophic fires, grilling accidents are more common than one might think. While most injuries are treatable, some could lead to long-term complications or even fatalities.

Common Causes of Grilling Accidents

  1. Propane Gas Leaks and Explosions: Propane grills are popular for their convenience, but they also pose the risk of gas leaks. If the gas builds up and finds an ignition source, it can lead to an explosion.

  2. Using Lighter Fluid Recklessly: A common mistake is adding lighter fluid to an already lit grill, which can cause dangerous flare-ups.

  3. Lack of Maintenance: Not cleaning the grill regularly can lead to fat and oil buildup, increasing the risk of uncontrollable fires.

  4. Grill Placement: Grilling too close to flammable materials like wooden decks, house sidings, or dry grass can quickly escalate a small flame into a full-blown fire.

  5. Distracted Grilling: Leaving the grill unattended or getting distracted by other activities can result in accidents.

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Personal Injury Claims: Understanding Liability

If you or someone you know gets injured due to a grilling accident, understanding liability is crucial for potential compensation. Here are some scenarios where you may be entitled to make a claim:

  1. Product Liability: If the grill or any of its parts were defective, leading to the accident, you could potentially sue the manufacturer for damages.

  2. Premises Liability: If you're injured at someone else's property because of their negligence (like improper grill maintenance or reckless behavior), you could have a claim against the property owner.

  3. Negligence: If the person in charge of the grill failed to exercise reasonable care leading to the accident, they might be held liable.

Steps to Take Following a Grilling Accident

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Even if the injury seems minor, getting immediate medical attention can prevent complications and provide documentation for your injury.

  2. Document Everything: Photographs of the injury, the grill, its location, any visible defects, or other conditions that might have contributed to the accident can be invaluable.

  3. Gather Witness Statements: If anyone saw the accident, get their contact information and a brief account of what they witnessed.

  4. Contact an Attorney: Navigating personal injury claims can be complex. An experienced attorney can guide you, ensuring you get the compensation you deserve.

Prevention: The Best Way Forward

While understanding liability and knowing your rights is essential, prevention remains the best course of action. Here are some safety tips:

  • Always read the manufacturer's guidelines and regularly inspect your grill.

  • Keep children and pets at a safe distance.

  • Use grilling tools with long handles to prevent burns.

  • Never leave the grill unattended.

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While barbecues are often joyous occasions, grilling accidents can cast a shadow on these gatherings. By being aware of potential dangers, practicing safety measures, and understanding your rights in case of accidents, you can strike the perfect balance between fun and safety. Always remember, grilling is best enjoyed responsibly.