Question Detail: Thank you in advance for your attention to my Iowa property law question. Can we sue for pain and suffering of my 4 year old child being burned? My 4-year-old son and I attended a child's birthday party at a friend's house. There were no scheduled activities. Eventually my son went out back to what was a large circle of sand for a pool that was no longer there. There were other children playing in it. I observed my son from an enclosed porch and watched as he walked through it. As he walked into the center of it he began to scream and then came running out. I ran over to him to find out what was wrong. Another parent (not the homeowner) said, "They use that as a fire pit, maybe it's still hot." Apparently they knew what they were talking about, but no one warned us of this before it happened.

I ran him inside and ran cold water over his foot for at least 15 minutes. His foot was burned on the instep to just before the heel with a large semi-raised blister covering most of the area and a smaller raised blister within that one. I then took him to the nearest hospital. They said it was a second degree burn, dressed it, ordered children's Motrin, and then gave instructions to return in 2 days. I took him to a children's hospital 2 days later, where they examined and dressed it with a better treatment and gave him a prescription for narcotic pain medicine and instructions to return in 2 days to their burn clinic. I brought him back to the burn clinic; they debrided it (broke the blister) and said it was a little deeper than they had suspected. It took him a week to be able to walk again and now approximately 10 days later, it is looking good and he is back in school and able to wear shoes (only needs a couple more layers of skin) and he will no longer be in pain. He has another appointment coming up at the burn clinic. I did take a couple of pictures; he needed to be carried everywhere including on/off toilet for a little over a week. He suffered a lot from pain, that day fighting and screaming and crying when I had to take his foot from the cool water to rush him to the hospital, screaming/crying/fighting.

Do I have an insurance claim with the owner’s house insurance?

Answer: The answer is yes. Homeowners have a duty to make the premises safe and to warn those who are invited into the property, about known dangers and to make the premises safe. In this case they should have roped off the area after watering it down to put out any burning ash. What these homeowners did is irresponsible and creates clear liability. Call us if we can help with your claim and for the sake of your son find some new friends. 

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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