Barn Wedding Burns in New York: Who’s Responsible?

Sakkas Cahn & Weiss

Right now in the state of New York there are some 70 “barn wedding” venues. Before you decide to flee the city long enough to hold a rustic, “memorable” wedding, it might be a good idea to make sure that it doesn’t become memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Old buildings, plus dry hay, plus alcohol, plus drunk people, plus, at times, romantics who want to light candles, of all things, near the altar or at tables. Not that electric lights are much better: one short in a light string and that’s all she wrote in this kind of an environment. What a shocker: sometimes this combination leads to horrific fires. It’s becoming common enough for personal injury lawyers like me to sit up and take notice.

In one story, a drunk wedding guest nearly sets the dance floor on fire, and not because he’s pulling such awesome moves. The fool kept right on dancing!

People are doing all sorts of crazy things at their weddings these days. Witness the bride and groom who decided to set themselves on fire for their wedding photo shoot. The race to have the biggest, boldest, most Instagrammable wedding is leading people to leave their brains at the door. Sure, both of these people do professional stunts for a living, but that didn’t make it the best idea. Sooner or later someone who isn’t a professional is going to try it, and knowing the general amount of sense that people seem to be displaying lately, they’ll probably do it next to an old barn.

Just to catalog the various wedding venue barn fires we’ve seen over the years:

  • August 2, 2017 — Coeur d’Alene wedding venue barn fire starts while kitchen staff are preparing for a wedding.
  • November 13, 2017 — A fire at a Tamworth, N.H. wedding venue.
  • November 16, 2019 — A wedding barn fire in Dedham, Massachusetts.
  • October 17, 2021 — Wedding venue fire in Hanover Twp., OH. This one started after someone lit a propane fireplace.
  • February 7, 2022 — Fire at the Hayloft barn venue in Aurora, NY. This one was at a storage building at the back of the property.
  • May 9, 2022 — Lewisville, NC barn fire starts when a careless guest put a shirt on a sauna heater that was then accidentally turned on.
  • July 4, 2022 — The aforementioned dirty dancer sets a centerpiece on fire.

No injuries got reported at most of these fires, as many of them started when nobody was in the barn to begin with.

Nevertheless, the truth is it’s only a matter of time before someone experiences severe burns at one of these things. Sooner or later some personal injury lawsuits are going to get filed. Already lawmakers in several states are taking enough notice to start requiring smoke detectors and sprinklers in venue barn buildings.

If you’re injured because you attend one of these weddings and gets burned, who could be held liable?

  • The first is the venue owner. Before opening their barns for weddings, they should really be offering safety measures such as extra exits, ramps, push-bars on doors, and sprinklers. If they fail to do so (and quite a few do push back on the idea) and you get burned, then you might have a case against them.
  • The guest who started the fire in the first place.
  • The wedding planner, if they ignored capacity warnings and issued too many invitations. Also: the wedding planner, if the wedding planner decided that candles and old barns were a good mix, or sparklers, or anything else that’s flammable.

If you set yourself on fire, you yourself are responsible and you won’t be able to launch a personal injury case, just FYI.

If you’re injured, get medical attention first. Then, get a lawyer right away. Burn injuries are no joke. They can do severe damage to your life and body.

Gathering evidence is optional; if you’re too hurt to do so focus on getting cared for. If you’re not, it never hurts to snap pictures. Providing your lawyer with the names and numbers of anyone who you knew to be at the wedding is helpful, as they can serve as witnesses later. The sooner you get someone like me involved, the better.

You only have two years to file a lawsuit, and I’ll need time to gather evidence and to pin point the responsible party, and the party who is most capable of paying.

And if you’re considering a wedding, maybe think twice about that big flammable barn.

See also:

8 Dead at Houston’s Astroworld Concert: Not the First, and it Won’t be the Last

The Pizza Delivery Guy Just Hit Me With His Bicycle — What Are My Rights?

Mayor de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” Program to Stop Fatalities is More Like a “Zero Vision” Program

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