firefighters hosing down blaze

Who Is Liable For Preventable Building Fires?

Few accidents have the potential to match the devastation of a fire. In a matter of minutes, entire buildings can become engulfed in flames – trapping people inside and incinerating millions of dollars worth of property. A fire in a large building like an apartment complex, warehouse, or music venue nearly always results in multiple severe injuries and deaths. After any large fire, investigators work tirelessly to determine how the fire occurred. These fires don’t get sparked on their own – in virtually all cases, some form of negligence is to blame. For victims and their families, holding these negligent parties accountable is an important part of healing and recovery.

When Are Property Owners Liable?

In some cases, fires only break out because of unsafe property conditions. All property owners have a legal duty to make sure their buildings are safe and free of any dangers which could hurt visitors and residents. At the most basic level, this means that buildings must be constructed with safe wiring, the right materials, and with the proper fire prevention safeguards in place. Unfortunately, some property owners decide to cut corners in order to make themselves richer, endangering everyone who visits or lives on their property.

This failure to make sure buildings are constructed safely has had devastating consequences throughout the world. Some recent examples include:

  • London Greenfell Tower fire – The London Greenfell Tower fire of June 2017 that lead to approximately 80 deaths and over 70 injuries was caused by faulty construction. Investigators believe the fire spread so rapidly because the building was constructed with flammable external panels. In a series of fire-safety tests following the fire, 100 percent of the 120 buildings tested failed.
  • Bay Area Ghost Ship warehouse fire – The relatives of 18 people who died in the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland in 2016 filed a personal injury lawsuit in May 2017 against the building’s owner, the primary leaseholder, and others for wrongful death. Individual lawsuits were compiled into one complaint, and lawyers say they expect the families of the remaining 18 victims to join the suit. The lawsuit claims that the named parties should have known that the warehouse had faulty electrical wiring. The building had a history of complaints about safety hazards.
  • Parkersburg warehouse fire – At least two lawsuits have been filed in relation to an IEI warehouse fire in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The lawsuit is seeking damages for personal injury and property damage allegedly caused by toxic smoke from the warehouse fire. The plaintiff is alleging negligence on the basis of; reckless, willful and wanton indifference motivated by financial gain; nuisance; and trespass. The lawsuit cites the storage of flammable and potentially hazardous waste chemicals and inadequate fire protection systems as evidence of negligence.

Is My Neighbor Liable For A Fire That Spreads To My Home?

If your neighbor started a fire through carelessness or negligence and it spread to your home, you may be wondering whether they’re liable for property damage or personal injuries. If your neighbor has homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, your best course of action may be filing a claim with their insurance company. However, filing an insurance claim can be complicated, and sometimes these payouts fail to account for the full extent of the damage. If your neighbor does not have insurance, your only recourse may be a personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death lawsuit.

Should I Get A Lawyer After Losing Property Or Being Injured In A Fire?

If you’re thinking about filing an insurance claim, it’s important to understand how the insurance business works. Insurance company profits are based on denying claims as often as possible. Far too often when dealing with insurance companies, people who rightfully deserve financial compensation fail to receive it, or receive far less than they’re entitled to. In order to fully protect your rights and ensure you get the full financial compensation you’re entitled to, we advise seeking legal guidance from an experienced personal injury or wrongful death lawyer.

If you want to find out more about your legal options as the victim of a fire, you can learn more from our Queens personal injury lawyers today in a free consultation.

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