When Lightning Strikes

While lightning may seem to be a random and completely unpreventable occurrence, injuries from lightning are not. Private property owners may be legally responsible for ensuring that their guests remain safe and unharmed from lightning bolts.


Although it is impossible to predict when and where lightning may strike, property owners can take preventative measures to ensure your safety. Lightning rods are commonly installed on the roof of a building or home in order to prevent fires and/or electrocution from occurring.

A lightning rod is a metal rod or pole that is installed at the top of building or house that has an electrical wire that travels to the ground (commonly referred to as a “grounding wire”). If the building or structure were to be struck by lightning, the bolt would go through the rod and the electricity will travel down the wire to the ground, thus preventing a fire or electrocution from occurring.


In addition to (or instead of) a lightning rod, there are other protective measures that can be taken to avoid being struck by a lightning bolt. For example, during a thunderstorm, it is advised that you do not play in large fields or swim, as this may make you more susceptible to being struck. When lightning travels through a body of water, it can cause shocks to occur elsewhere in the water.


If you were struck by lightning while on private property, the property owner may be liable for your injuries. While such legal cases are rare, property owners do have a responsibility to ensure reasonable safety for their guests. This may include taking such measures as installing lightning rods or warning guests about the dangers of being outside during storms.