Heat-Related Illnesses: Legal Recourse for Negligence

The summer has barely started and we’re already hearing about illnesses and deaths caused by the extreme heat. While some of these tragic cases are unavoidable, others can be laid at the feet of businesses and organizations that encourage people to gather and then don’t provide them with much-needed shade, hydration, or other ways to manage the high temperatures. While we’ll leave the conversation about what causes the heat to policymakers, the question of responsibility for easily anticipated temperature-related needs is another story. If you or someone you love has been hurt by someone’s disregard for your health, you may be able to take legal action. Here’s what you need to know.

To file a negligence claim against an organizer or individual for failing to act appropriately to prevent heat-related illnesses, you’ll need to prove that they had a duty to ensure the safety of their attendees and that they breached this duty by failing to provide adequate shade, hydration, or to take other steps. You’ll also need to show that your heat-related illness or injury was directly caused by their negligence and that you suffered actual harm or injury as a result of their neglect.

In addition to negligence, there are other grounds on which legal action can be taken. You can file a claim under a theory of premises liability if you can show that a property owner or event organizer failed to maintain save conditions. This could involve a failure to provide warnings about the risk of heat exposure or a failure to provide enough shade, hydration, or medical facilities. A product liability claim could be filed if the heat-related illness was a result of the failure of a product such as malfunctioning cooling equipment or broken communications equipment that prevented a call from getting through to emergency responders. A claim of gross negligence or recklessness could also be filed if the organizers ignored extreme weather forecasts without taking action to protect attendees. In the case of reckless, punitive damages may be available in addition to compensation for actual expenses.

If you are considering taking legal action, make sure that you keep all documentation and collect the names and contact information of any witnesses who can support your claim. Our experienced attorneys ae here to help you determine whether your rights have been violated.