The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Campfires Gone Wild: Avoid Liability If the Woods Burn Down

It's summertime, the kids are out of school, and you want to get out of the city. There's no better time to go camping than now. You can escape the heat and take a dip in a lake or stream, breathing the fresh country air.

Just remember, even though you're on vacation leaving your worries at home that you still need to act in a reasonable way. Now, don't confuse reasonable with no fun. A reasonable person lets loose every now and then. However, here are some tips to avoid liability for campfire damage while you're out camping.

Camping brings with it the fun of campfires that we usually don't light in our backyards. Since they are things we don't do everyday, care should be taken to make sure things don't get out of hand. This is especially so because 74% of children's camping injuries are campfire-related.

One of the best parts of camping is sitting around the campfire telling ghost stories and roasting marshmallows. But how did you start the fire? Is in the proper fire ring?

Usually there are park or campground rules about where a fire can be built. If you are in a Pennsylvania state forest the law permits a small campfire as long as precautions are taken to prevent the spread of fire and it is attended at all times.

Breaking these types of rules can leave you with a criminal citation, but they can also lead to civil liability if you were to cause damage to someone's property. Negligence will be found when a person breaches a legal duty and damage is caused by that breach.

For example, starting a fire can bring with it decisions of whether to be reasonable or not, because if you decide to use gasoline to start it there could be any number of consequences.

Using gas to start a fire could cause an explosion that might injure those around you. It could also start nearby ground cover on fire and spread to your camp neighbor's new RV. Worse, is that if you were starting the fire outside of the designated fire area, it would be even easier to prove that you breached your legal duty to be reasonable.

Go forth and have fun in the woods, but just be careful with those fires. Nobody wants a burn injury and nobody wants liability for campfire damage.

Related Resources: