Heymann & Fletcher

Owner of a motel could face premises liability suits after fire

No matter how safety-conscious a motel property owner is, accidents may still occur. Guests should feel secure in knowing that the establishment is safe. Recently, a motel on the New Jersey shoreline caught on fire shortly after 5:30 am. What happened after that could lead to premises liability suits against the motel owner.

Thankfully, out of the suspected 40 guests staying at the beach side motel, only four suffered fatal injuries in the blaze that also injured at least eight other guests. There were an estimated 10 people unaccounted for after the fire was finally under control shortly after 7 a.m. One woman literally saved herself from the flames by jumping into the motel room's bathroom shower and turned the water on to avoid being burned. Fire crews were able to rescue the woman through the window. The woman's current condition is unknown at this time.

It is reported thus far that only three of the eight guests who were reported to have been injured were considered to be in critical condition. The remaining guests reportedly suffered smoke inhalation and burns caused by this structural fire. Further, one of the responding sheriff's deputies was reported to have several broken bones from the incident.

The names of the victims, deceased or injured, have not been released at this time. This is still an active investigation, and the cause of the fire is still not clear. Fire and police arson teams are working to determine the exact cause of the blaze. The owner of the New Jersey motel, and possibly others, could be held responsible and could face premises liability suits in connection with this tragic event if negligence is revealed to have played a role.

Source: wcvb.com, Motel fire on New Jersey shore kills 4, Lorenzo Ferrigno and Jason Hanna, March 21, 2014

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