Can I File a Claim For an Injury I Got at a Holiday Work Party?

Holiday Work Party with Holiday Treats

The holiday season is here again – a time for people to celebrate the end of the year and enjoy quality time with family and friends. It’s also the season for workplace parties, and many of us look forward to toasting our business accomplishments with colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere.

But what happens if you get injured at your holiday work party? While they’re thankfully pretty rare, work party accidents do sometimes occur. Here are some questions to consider if you’re thinking of filing a claim for a work party injury in the state of Maryland.

Was attendance mandatory (or were you paid/given other benefits or incentives to attend)? If you can prove that you were expected to attend your office holiday party, or you were at least rewarded for doing so, then you may be able to claim compensation if you were injured there. The rationale behind this is that your decision to attend was not based on personal choice, but rather a requirement (or an expectation) on behalf of your employers – so they’re responsible for your safety and wellbeing.

Was your injury the result of planned activities? Employers sometimes schedule team-building activities as part of their holiday festivities. If you’re injured participating in these activities, you may have a case for a claim.

Where was the event hosted? If the party was at your place of work, then your employers could potentially be held responsible for any injuries sustained there. If the party was elsewhere (at a restaurant, for example), you might be able to file a third-party liability claim – if you can prove that the third party was negligent in some way (say if you slipped and fell because of bad lighting or icy outdoor stairs).

Was alcohol involved? Alcohol tends to cloud people’s judgment, leading them to do things they might not ordinarily do. If alcohol is served at your work party and you’re injured in an accident as a result, you’ll need to demonstrate that your company (or a third party) showed negligence in their handling of the situation (making alcohol consumption a key component of the party’s activities, continuing to serve people even if they were visibly drunk, etc).

Can you be considered at fault? As we’ve mentioned in several other articles, Maryland is a contributory negligence state, which means that you can’t claim compensation if you’re found to be even 1% at fault in a personal injury case. Your best move is to speak to a qualified personal injury attorney, who can let you know how strong of a case you might have.

If you are injured at an office holiday party and you think you have a right to a claim, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.

Thanksgiving Turkey Frying Accidents: Do You Have a Claim?

Fried Turkey During Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the highlights of the year for a lot of people. What could be better than gathering with family and friends to relax, enjoy each other’s company, watch sports on TV and eat great food? Unfortunately, Thanksgiving get-togethers can sometimes lead to accidents and injuries. Let’s talk about one particular type: deep-fried turkey accidents.

What is deep-fried turkey?

This unique turkey preparation method originated in Louisiana, and quickly gained popularity after an article about the delicacy appeared in the New Orleans Times Picayune in the 1980s. It involves lowering an entire turkey into a turkey fryer (basically a tall pot full of boiling oil, heated by a propane tank) and letting it sit in the oil until it’s fully cooked through. Fried turkey takes less time to prepare than oven-baked turkey, and fans of the dish swear that the finished product is crispier and juicier.

Of course, if you think that frying a large hunk of meat in a vat of oil over an open flame sounds potentially hazardous, you’re not wrong. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, turkey fryers account for over 1,000 fires every year, causing dozens of injuries and even some fatalities – not to mention over $15 million in property damage. And the vast majority of these fryer accidents take place on or around Thanksgiving.

So should I forget about deep-frying a turkey this Thanksgiving?

Not necessarily. If you are careful and follow some very specific safety guidelines, you can greatly reduce your risk of accidents and injury when deep-frying a turkey. (A word of advice before you start, too – you may want to double-check your home insurance policy to make sure that turkey fryer-related damage is covered.)

Here are some of those guidelines:

  • Make sure your turkey is COMPLETELY thawed before deep-frying it. Frozen turkeys contain water, which does not react well when combined with burning oil. Depending on how large your turkey is, it might take you a couple of days to thaw it – so build that time into your schedule. Once it’s thawed, go over the surface of the turkey with a paper towel to soak up any residual moisture.
  • Never use a turkey fryer inside. Set up the fryer outdoors on a level surface, away from trees and at least 10 feet away from your house or any other structure. Don’t use the fryer if it’s raining or snowing outside (see above re: oil and water).
  • Use a newer turkey fryer. Generally speaking, the newer the model, the safer the fryer. (This is true for a lot of appliances.) Choose a fryer with a leak-proof lid, which can help prevent oil spills. Make sure your propane tank is clean and leak-free, too.
  • Don’t use too much oil – and don’t overheat it. Pour in just enough oil to cover the turkey completely; any more than that and you risk a spill. Keep an eye on oil temperature, too. Most turkey fryers come with a thermometer; the optimal frying temperature is 350 degrees.
  • Wear grill gloves (and a pair of goggles, if possible). No matter how careful you are when lowering the turkey into the vat (and raising it back up again), there is a chance the oil might splatter. Get yourself some proper grill gloves and consider wearing goggles to protect your eyes.
  • Keep kids and pets clear. The turkey frying process might be exciting to little ones and furry friends, but it’s not safe for them to get too close to the action. Make sure they keep a good distance from the fryer.
  • Call 911 if a fire breaks out. Oil fires are notoriously difficult to contain. In the event of an accident, call emergency services right away. Don’t try to put out the fire yourself (unless you have a fire extinguisher that’s specifically intended for oil fires – and even then, you should still call 911).
  • Consider using an electric fryer. While results may differ somewhat, oil-free electric fryers can still produce a crisp, tasty turkey. And they are safer than their oil-and-propane-tank counterparts. (You’re unlikely to find ones quite as big as the 30-quart oil fryers, though.)

Do I have a claim if I’m injured while deep-frying a turkey?

It depends. In order to have a valid personal injury claim, you’ll have to demonstrate that you were not at fault in your turkey fryer accident. Remember, too, that Maryland is a contributory negligence state, which means that you can’t be compensated at all if you’re found to be even 1% responsible for your injuries.

Having said that, you may have a case if you are able to prove the following three things:

  • You used the turkey fryer correctly and according to manufacturing instructions. In other words, you didn’t ignore any potential safety hazards like frying indoors, placing the fryer on an uneven surface, adding too much oil, heating the oil to a higher than recommended temperature or frying an un-thawed turkey.
  • The turkey fryer was defective, and those defects were the cause of the accident. It’s not enough to prove that the appliance you used did not function as intended. You must also prove that you were injured, or your property was damaged, as a direct result of those defects.
  • You sustained injuries or property damage because of the accident. As with any personal injury claim, you’ll need to prove that you sustained quantifiable injuries (physical or emotional) because of your accident. That means medical records, notes from your doctor, photos of home damage and so on.

All of this can seem a little daunting, which is why your best bet is to get in touch with an experienced lawyer. They can talk you through the specifics and help you determine the best strategy for getting the compensation you deserve.

If you are injured using a turkey fryer and you think you have a right to a claim, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.

Unusual Personal Injury Cases in Maryland

Personal Injury Unusual Cases

When you think of personal injury claims, both here in Maryland and throughout the country, car accidents might be the first thing that comes to mind. There’s a good reason for this: auto accidents are the leading cause of personal injury claims in the United States, accounting for over 50% of cases. Slip-and-fall accidents and medical malpractice are also common claims, as are workplace accidents.

Exceptions to the Rule

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been some highly unusual personal injury claims over the years, however. One of Maryland’s most unique cases occurred back in 2008. Kyle Coleman, then a 20-year-old volunteer assistant coach for a soccer team near Columbia, jumped up to grab the top crossbar of a goal while he was retrieving a ball from the back of the net. The goal wasn’t secured, however, and Coleman fell onto his back, pulling the goal down on top of him. The crossbar smashed his face, causing injuries which required the insertion of titanium plates inside his head.

Coleman sued the organization in charge of the practice, Soccer Association of Columbia, for damages. He was not awarded any compensation, however. Why not? As previously mentioned[TK1] , Maryland is one of four states that adheres to the principle of contributory negligence, which dictates that you are not entitled to any compensation at all if you are found to be even 1% at fault in an accident. The jury in Coleman’s case ruled that jumping up to grab the soccer goal crossbar rendered him partially at fault in his accident, which disqualified him from receiving any financial settlement.

Other Unusual Cases

Outside of Maryland, there are plenty of other out-of-the-ordinary personal injury lawsuits worth mentioning – some of which are groundbreaking. You may have heard of the “McDonald’s coffee” lawsuit, which occurred some 30 years ago. 79-year-old Stella Liebeck suffered third-degree burns when she spilled a to-go cup of McDonald’s coffee on her lap while sitting in the passenger seat of a parked car. Liebeck originally tried to settle with McDonald’s, asking them to pay her $20,000 to cover her medical expenses, but the fast-food chain refused, instead offering her $800. So she filed a claim – and was eventually rewarded close to $3 million. While many people at the time dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous, the fact remains that Liebeck sustained substantial injuries as a result of someone else’s negligence (the coffee was determined to have been upwards of 180 degrees Fahrenheit – far too hot to safely drink).

Of course, not every unusual lawsuit is successful. Take, for example, the case of Richard Overton vs. Anheuser Busch in 1994. Overton, a resident of Michigan, sued the brewing company for misrepresenting Bud Light in their advertising “as the source of fantasies coming to life… involving tropical settings, and beautiful women and men engaged in unrestricted merriment.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, his personal injury suit, which claimed emotional distress, mental injury and financial loss, wasn’t successful.

Wondering if your personal injury claim is too unusual? Don’t assume you can’t pursue damages, even in a contributory negligence state like Maryland. Your best bet is to contact a qualified personal injury attorney, who can let you know if your situation warrants a claim. If you’re considering filing a personal injury claim, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas Parr in Baltimore, MD today to schedule your free consultation. We don’t receive a fee unless we win.