Heat Wave Injuries: Who’s Responsible?

There are four seasons in Texas. Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer, and Christmas.

We Texans are tough when it comes to the heat. We still wear jeans in the summer (though we trade in our cowboy boots for flip flops). We still run outside during the day (though we drink our weight in Gatorade before, during, and after). Heck, our local weather guys don’t even call the heat “excessive” until the high temps are between 103° to 110° and the heat index is 110° or higher.

Long spells of temperatures in the upper 90s and higher can result in minor injuries like sunburn and dehydration and life-threatening injuries like heat stroke.

Can anyone be held liable when someone suffers a heat wave injury or illness?

Is your employer responsible if you suffer a heat-related injury or illness at work?

Maybe.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the same folks who prevent you from storing boxes in the hallway, requires employers to provide employees relief from heat stress, especially for those employees who work outside or in a particularly hot indoor environment (e.g., a warehouse without air-conditioning or a factory with equipment that generates tremendous heat). Relief would include providing access to drinking water and adequate breaks.

Is your landlord responsible if you suffer a heat-related injury or illness at home?

Maybe.

Landlords are generally not required to install air-conditioning (but if your apartment has air-conditioning installed, your landlord may be obligated to repair it).

Landlords are responsible for ensuring your apartment has running, cool water. Any heat-related injuries or illness related to lack of cool water could open up your landlord to liability.

Is your child’s school responsible if your child suffers a heat-related injury or illness at school?

Yes.

Believe it or not but kids are back in school in Texas by mid-August.

Young kids can very easily get dehydrated or worse when the weather is hot. If they suffer a heat-related injury or illness at school, their school may be liable under the theory of negligent supervision.

Any good tips for beating the summer heat? Leave a comment or send me an e-mail.

Copyright © 2018 by Siobhán Fitzpatrick Kratovil. All Rights Reserved.

 

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