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I got sued by my neighbor who got injured through my fire pit and now wants to hold me responsible for the pain he is suffering

Fort Stewart, GA |

We wanted to barbecue and in order to light the fire quicker I poured gasoline on the wood. My neighbor dipped in a piece of paper and lighted the fire. It gave a huge flame and he got burned on his arm, face and ear. Now he wants to hold me responsible for his mistake. He is over 30 years old. He should know once you pour gasoline on wood it will give a big flame, where you have to step otherwise you will get burned. I ended up taking him to the hospital, watched his kids while he was in the hospital and a special burn unit clinic and now he sues me for his mistake. He is a felon, had several charges against him for procession of guns, DUI etc. and now he pulls something like that on me. I really need your help, I surely didn't want him to get injured but to sue me I just think is wrong.

Attorney Answers 8


  1. Report the claim to your homeowners/rental insurance company & let them investigate & handle the claim. If no insurance immediately consult a local personal injury defense attorney.

    This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.


  2. It was grossly negligent fopr you to pour gasoline on a fire. He may have a very strong claim (although you will have a defense that he was also negligent). Hopefully you were not foolish enough not to carry homeowners insurance, which will defend you and pay any claims. If you were foolish enough not to be insured, you will have to pay for a lawyer and may have to pay claims. Assuming you have insurance, I hope you already reported it as you should have done.

    If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you (and am not your lawyer). Do feel free to call me at 404-768-3509 if you wish to discuss actual representation (the phone call also does not retain counsel; that requires an office visit and appropriate paperwork). In that a forum such as this provides me with limited details and doesn't allow me to review details and documents, it is possible that answers here, while meant to be helpful, may in some cases not be complete or accurate, and I highly recommend that you retain legal counsel rather than rely on the answers here. (You can also email my office at geaatl@msn.com . An email also does not retain my office, but can help you get an appointment set if you prefer not to call). I am happy to discuss possible representation with you. Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. Note that I am only licensed in Georgia and thus cannot practice in other states. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy.


  3. Anyone can sue anyone for anything. Just because he sued you doesn't mean you'll have to pay him anything. Chances are if you have a homeowner's insurance policy, your insurer will defend you at no cost to you. If you don't have home insurance, you'll need to hire a lawyer to defend you. Take it seriously. Just because you think he has no case is no reason to ignore his suit. You MUST file an answer or your friend will win by default and then you WILL have to pay him for his own negligence. It sounds like he doesn't have much of a case, but you should certainly make an appointment with a local attorney and go have a person to person consultation.


  4. If you have homeowners ins. notify your agent of the lawsuit immediately and follow his instructions as to getting a copy of the lawsuit to your ins. co., etc. Your time to do this is very limited, usually the suit must be answered within 30 days from the date you were served with it or you can lose by default.
    Ga. is a comparative negligence state, so if the case is not settled and goes to court, the jury will compare his negligence to yours and split their verdict accordingly, whereas in a contributory negligence state, ANY negligence on his part would keep him from winning. FYI, Ga. used to be a contributory negligence state.
    His status as a felon means nothing in this case, unless he has been convicted of a crime such as arson and has been forbidden to start any outdoor fire as a condition of his parole, if he is on parole.

    Disclaimer: This response is provided to you by attorney Robert G. Rothstein (404) 216-1422 for educational and informational purposes only.No attorney-client relationship has been created hereby. Other attorneys may have different opinions or responses. If you found this response helpful, please indicate Best Answer to Avvo. Thank you.


  5. I won't add fuel to the fire by telling you this was ridiculous, so I will just tell you to turn it over to your insurance company to resolve.


  6. Many more facts would be necessary to evaluate the strength of his claim against you. The fact that he may be a felon should be irrelevant in determining whether or not you were negligent. If he was such a bad guy why were you socializing with him? Report to your homeowners' insurance company immediately.


  7. The answer is fairly straightforward - you don't need our website help. You need the help of your lawyer. Being sued is a serious matter and it needs to be handled properly. You need to find a lawyer in your area, starting tomorrow. You also need to review your homeowners insurance to see if they might provide coverage and a defense.


  8. I answer your question in this weeks' episode of Taking Law with David Dorer http://daviddorer.com/?p=634

    Answering questions does not create an attorney/client relationship. I only am your attorney if I have entered into a written contract, signed by me, wherein I expressly assent to be your attorney. Nothing I post should be construed as legal advice to be acted upon, it is merely a legal opinion.

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