June 2015, a retirement community in Evans lights up the night sky as a fire rages. The local fire department responds immediately, yet a woman dies. Now—a year later—residents and their families are still picking up the pieces, and some have filed lawsuits against the retirement community administrators, but do they have a case to seek damages?
Should A Georgia Nursing Home Pay For An Accidental Fire?
The fire started near an air conditioner on the third floor of the Marshall Square Retirement Community (MSRC)—a multi-floor apartment complex for seniors. Upon investigating, the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s Office ruled that the fire was an accident. For some, this was a vindication, but then lawsuits began to pour in from the seniors that lived in the community.
According to residents, MSRC not only had no fire evacuation plans for the seniors, but the facility’s staff had also deactivated the fire alarm and sprinkler system both before and during the fire in 2015. The fire department itself didn’t receive notice of the fire from the alarm company until two hours after the fire had been blazing. Luckily, firefighters had found out about the fire through other channels and were on the scene long before the call arrived. However, that still wasn’t enough to save everyone in the building.
Residents were also told to stay in their rooms in the event of a fire, and at least two seniors found themselves trapped when they followed these instructions. One 91-year-old woman died while she awaited evacuation instructions over an intercom system that could only play music. Another woman was trapped in her bathroom, covered in wet towels, and awaiting rescue. Firefighters found her alive, but the rescue came seven hours after she had been trapped.
Georgia state law requires a fire safety plan, a fire evacuation plan, and placards in every room of a complex that tells residents where to go in the event of a fire. MSRC lacked all of these measures, and that’s why the residents and their families are suing MSRC as well as Columbus County fire officials for negligence and wrongful death. Will their cases succeed? Your Macon personal injury attorneys will keep an eye on the situation, so you can keep an eye on our blog for more updates.