An apartment fire is a traumatic experience that can result in serious, irreversible injuries to individuals, and extensive damage to their homes. While fires can occur anywhere, an alarmingly high number of incidents occur within a home. Fires in a home structure make up nearly 75% of all civilian fire deaths, with an average of 346,800 home structure fires reported annually.
Many parties can contribute to a fire accident including individuals, other tenants, manufacturers of defective products, electricians, contractors, and even landlords. While fires are sometimes unavoidable, tenants have the right to a safe and protected environment provided by their landlord and apartment building owners.
Victims of an apartment fire should consult a fire accident lawyer to understand their rights in filing personal injury claims against landlords.
What Causes an Apartment Fire?
An apartment fire can be caused by a variety of factors but is most commonly due to the following causes:
- Electrical systems
Unfortunately, fire accidents usually occur unexpectedly and show no sign of danger until it is too late. Due to the close proximately of units and high volume of occupants, apartment fires pose a significant safety threat.
Although fires cannot be completely avoided, protocols are put in place to minimize the damages if one should occur. Safety regulations including fire escape routes, working smoke detectors and fire alarms, and properly stored fire extinguishers are often required for apartment buildings and other complexes to minimize injuries and damage in the event of a fire accident.
While premise owners should be following protocol, tenants should take their own precautions including regularly checking their smoke detectors, establishing a fire evacuation plan, monitoring their appliances, and unplugging/extinguishing any fire hazards before leaving their apartment.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against Landlords
Landlords are responsible for ensuring their tenants’ safety, meaning their property should comply with regulations. While a landlord may not be directly liable for an apartment fire caused by cooking or a candle, they may still be held accountable in a personal injury case.
A landlord may be found negligent for:
- Failure to install smoke detectors or alarms
- Failure to abide by fire safety regulations
- Defective wiring
- Tenant overcrowding
Failure to abide by fire safety codes can contribute to increased damages that could otherwise have been prevented.
In some cases, a landlord may also be charged for an apartment fire caused by another tenant if they failed to address an issue they knew could result in a fire.
Because of the risks associated with owning or managing a property, some landlords may exempt themselves from holding the burden of responsibility by carefully drafting their leases. A burn injury lawyer will work with tenants to understand their individual rights, and how to proceed in filing a personal injury claim against landlords.
How to Win a Fire Accident Lawsuit
Victims of a fire accident should be entitled to compensation for their medical treatment, hospital bills, rehabilitation, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits are not always simple.
To win a personal injury claim against landlords, negligence must be proven. Tenants must be able to prove that the landlord had a duty of care to provide protection and that there was a breach of that duty during the fire.
For example, the landlord may have had the duty to provide a certain number of smoke detectors that were not present at the time of the fire accident.
Once the duty of care and breach of duty is established, tenants must prove the landlord’s negligence directly corresponded to the fire. In the case above, if an individual was not woken up from a smoke detector and sustained injuries due to their inability to evacuate in time, negligence may be proven. By proving the landlord’s negligence was the partial or sole cause of burn injuries, individuals may be able to receive compensation.
In the event of a fire accident, it is important to collect proper evidence in order to build a stronger case. Documentation including police reports, medical records, bills, and photographic evidence should be accounted for. A fire injury lawyer will be able to use this evidence to hold the responsible parties liable.
Finding the Right Fire Injury Lawyer
Fire accidents are typically very complex and require a team of experts to build a strong claim for insurance companies, and to hold the accountable parties liable. When hiring a burn injury lawyer, it is important to consider their relative experience in fire accident cases, their fees, and their dedication to your case.
The Law Office of John J. Perlstein has over 25 years of trial-tested experience in burn injury, and apartment fire cases in Los Angeles and Orange County. Our attorneys will listen to your story, discuss ways to recover from this incident, and fight on your behalf. For a free consultation and legal guidance, contact a fire injury lawyer today.