Fire in a Restaurant

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Q: A New York City firefighter, I was extinguishing a fire at a restaurant.  Because of the heavy smoke, no one could see.  Our hose was spraying tons of water.  This water has enough velocity to move a couch, blow a hole in a tin roof, scatter restaurant fixtures all over the place and knock down tables, chairs and booths.  We needed to climb over debris.  My foot became lodged in something that did not feel like part of the floor.

A: Section 205-a of the General Municipal Law provides protection to a firefighter injured as a result of a building code violation that enlarges the hazard of your task by diminishing fire safety or prevention.  To make out a valid claim, you must identify the statute or ordinance that defendant violated, describe the manner in which you were injured, and set forth relevant facts from which it may be inferred that the defendants’ negligence directly or indirectly caused you harm.

While you need only establish a practical or reasonable connection between the statutory or regulatory violation and the injury, your lawsuit will be thrown out when the connection is overly speculative.

Suppose that the defendants present deposition testimony, post-fire inspection reports, and other evidence indicating that there were no violations, specifically holes in the floor and accumulated debris, that caused your injuries – either directly or by increasing the inherent dangers of firefighting.  You must rebut this showing.

Otherwise, your assertion that some hole in the floor directly caused the injuries is pure conjecture and your allegation that the defendants allowed debris to accumulate, causing you to trip and fall, is speculative.

That is why your attorney will be keen to find evidence of violations for unsealed openings, lack of requisite fireproofing, lack of fire-detection equipment or lack of extinguishment or suppression systems.  He or she will also need an expert to link these violations to your injuries.

By: Scott Baron,
Attorney at Law Advertorial

The law responds to changed conditions; exceptions and variations abound. Here, the information is general; always seek out competent counsel. This article shall not be construed as legal advice.

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