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Burned Sheriff’s Deputy Sues Over Leaky, Exploding Gas Pump

Last month, I wrote on this blog about a Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy who suffered burns over about 60% of his body after the gas pump he was using simply exploded. Sgt. Richard Ragali was badly burned Oct. 2 during a motorcycle ride to the Florida Keys with a group of friends. When they pulled into a gas station in Marathon, Ragali’s Harley slipped in a puddle of gas, triggering an explosion and pinning him underneath the bike. Ragali has been hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital ever since. According to a Nov. 14 article from, he and his family are suing the gas station and its parent companies for failing to take care of the gas spill and prevent the accident.

Ragali’s lawsuit, filed last week in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, names Circle K, Shell Oil, Circle K store number 2386 and Motica Enterprises LLC as defendants. According to television station WPBF, the suit alleges that the store’s owners had been warned several times over the preceding weeks that there was a gas puddle at the pump. Nonetheless, they negligently failed to take action, the complaint charges. Ragali is seeking damages for his medical bills, lost past and future earnings, injuries, pain, suffering, permanent disfigurement and loss of enjoyment of life. His sons, 16-year-old Joshua and 20-year-old Joseph, are claiming the loss of their father’s services, support, guidance and other care. Their family’s West Palm Beach premises liability attorney said they’ve been living with their mother, who is divorced from Ragali, since the accident.

I was also sobered to read about some of the serious consequences of Ragali’s burn injuries. KeysNet reported that he is in a specialized burn unit, where he has received multiple skin grafts and is undergoing physical therapy. The family’s attorney said Ragali recently took 20 steps — a big deal for his family. As a Lauderhill burn injury attorney, I’m sorry to say that this is not unusual for someone who was so severely burned. In addition to being unpleasant to look at, the inflexible scar tissue from a bad burn can also restrict the victim’s movements if not prevented, corrected or both. Victims typically need long-term physical therapy, care from a burn specialist or dermatologist and sometimes surgeries. Not surprisingly, all this medical care can be very expensive. For someone as badly burned as Ragali, medical costs can easily reach seven figures over a lifetime.

When someone else’s carelessness causes this type of severe physical and financial injury Florida law gives victims the right to sue to recover their costs and damages. At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, we are proud of our twenty-plus years helping Floridians hold wrongdoers responsible for causing serious accidents. Our Delray Beach burn injury attorneys handle severe burns arising from all kinds of accidents, including traffic accidents, house fires and workplace accidents as well as unsafe premises. Thanks to our experience, we understand how to properly value a claim for a severe burn, including the value of claims for damages like lost future earnings, likely future medical care and the emotional cost of life with serious scars. Our goal is always to make sure our clients get the money they need to secure necessary medical care, support their families and be fairly compensated for a devastating accident.

If you or a loved one suffered serious burns because of another person’s carelessness, Cohn, Smith & Cohn can help. To learn more at a free consultation, please call our main office in Broward County at (954) 431-8100 or contact us through our Web site.

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