Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Have You Been Injured in a Fire Accident?
Injury Attorneys can Provide Free Legal Advice
Fires are dangerous and often threaten lives and destroy personal property. According to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to over 1.3 million fires in 2018. These fires caused over 3,000 deaths and over 15,000 injuries. Of these deaths and injuries, over 85% take place in a residence. The best way to prevent serious damage and injuries from fires is to install smoke detectors. It is important to place smoke detectors in every room and hallway and to check the smoke detectors for functionality. It is also a good idea to have fire extinguishers on hand to minimize damages.
An already stressful situation can become even worse when in the aftermath of a fire insurance claims are denied or insurance money is tied up in technicalities. If you have a valid insurance claim that has been denied after a fire, consider contacting an attorney to get the help you need and ensure the money you spent on your insurance premium doesn’t go to waste. Property damage due to a fire can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention any cost of medical bills which might result from fire injuries or death.
What are the Statistics on Fire Accidents?
The most common causes for fires are burning candles, still-lit cigarettes, portable heaters, lamps, exposed wires, fireplaces, and cooking appliances, including grease fires. Many of these items use rugs, curtains, and newspaper as kindling, allowing the fire to spread quickly.
Let’s go over some important fire-related statistics:
- According to the U.S. Fire Administration, around 3,000 people die every year due to house and apartment fires.
Fires can occur in many places with varying frequency. In order from most common to least common locations where fires occur, residential properties experience the most fires, with nonresidential properties and vehicles following up, and outdoor as well as other miscellaneous locations making up only a small percentage.
- California, Texas, and New York had the greatest number of deaths due to fires in 2017.
- People over the age of 85 are at greatest risk for death as a result of a fire, and adults aged 40-44 are at the highest risk for fire injury.
- More men than women tend to be injured or killed in a fire.
- Cooking is the greatest cause of residential fires, with carelessness, intention, and electrical malfunction in order of most common to least common causes.
Who is Responsible for a Fire Accident?
The litigation process for fires can be complex. Without insurance, if you are determined to be at-fault for the fire, you will generally be responsible for ensuing damages. Sometimes even with insurance, it can be hard to convince the insurance company to give you the help you need. With so many different kinds of fires varying by location, there may be different parties responsible depending on what kind of fire you experienced. Depending on the circumstances of the fire, there may even be several parties involved in your particular case. These may include:
- The resident. Fires are most often caused by the residents themselves, though usually this is due to accidents around the house involving cooking or an open flame. Whether due to unintentional carelessness or not, if you are responsible for the fire and you own your home, your homeowner’s insurance should be able to lend a hand with the damages. If you are renting the place where the fire occurred, your landlord may actually be able to sue you.
- Electrical companies. If the cause of the fire is determined to be faulty wiring or another electrical issue, the electrical company may be liable for damages.
- Gas companies. If the cause of the fire is determined to be a gas leak or error, the gas company may be liable for damages.
- Product manufacturers. Sometimes defective products can start fires on their own. When this is the case, the product manufacturer can be held liable for damages incurred as a result of the fire their product started.
- Landlords. When renting a house, apartment, or other structure and a fire occurs due to some kind of negligence on the landlord’s part, possibly including a lack of maintenance or failure to abide by current fire codes, the landlord may be held liable for damages.
- Businesses. In the case of a business fire, even if the business is not at fault and has insurance, they will likely still be held liable for damages to employees/employee property/public property. This is especially true if the business was found not adequately prepared to prevent and fight the fire, or lacked sufficient fire safety protocols.
- Arsonists. In very rare instances when the fire is intentionally caused by another person with criminal intent, that person may be charged with arson and face a civil lawsuit to provide the injured party with compensation for damages.
Do You Have a Claim for Damages Incurred by a Fire Accident?
Depending on the nature of your or your family member’s injuries due to a fire, your lawyer may identify possible claims for:
- Medical expenses. Injuries resulting from a fire may include: first, second, and/or third degree burns; smoke inhalation; head trauma; orthopedic injuries; and, in the worst case scenario, death.
- Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of hospital stay-time, or, for the loved one of a fire accident victim, the necessity to temporarily or permanently extricate themselves from work in order to provide care.
- Lifecare expenses, such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries.
- Vocational rehabilitation.
- Pain and suffering, for both emotional and physical distress.
- Loss of consortium (the services of a close family member) and loss of care and companionship.
- Wrongful death.
- Funeral expenses.
If you or a loved one were injured/killed in a fire accident, you need a personal injury attorney that understands the emotional and physical toll these types of accidents can take on your life. An experienced attorney will be aggressive in seeking the compensation that you deserve.