The Truth about Fire and Premises Liability
There’s no dispute that burn injuries are among the most painful. What happens when someone is injured in a fire caused by someone else’s negligence? Is it possible to bring a premise liability claim?
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) maintains statistics regarding fire causes. Not surprisingly, Christmas tree fires lead the list in December and January. However, home heating and home electrical distribution and lighting also account for a number of fires. Could a property owner be liable for any of these types of accidents? Let’s see.
Determining the Cause of a Fire
Fire-related injuries are not just confined to burns. Smoke inhalation can cause severe issues. Individuals also suffer harm in an attempt to escape a fire. Unfortunately, some people die in fires.
It is always important to determine the cause of a fire. The local fire department will often have specially trained investigators. In some cases, the investigation may be assigned to county officials. When pursuing a lawsuit regarding fire-related injuries, your attorney may engage the services of an investigator on your behalf.
One of the goals of the fire investigator is to determine if the fire was accidental or arson. Some of the evidence that is evaluated includes the following:
- Faulty electrical circuits
- Presence of combustible materials
- Pattern in which the fire burned
- Determination of the fire’s origin
- Review of heating units, such as furnaces, boilers and space heaters
These are just a sampling of the items reviewed by fire investigators. They are also quite helpful in determining whether a property owner was negligent in maintaining or repairing key parts of their premise and thus, liable.
New Jersey also has certain legal requirements for owners of multiple dwelling units. Failure to comply with these laws may have made it difficult for individuals to escape the fire. Regulations include the installation of sprinkler systems and smoke detectors. Fire escapes and fire doors may be required. The law includes the construction of fire separation walls for some structures.
To determine if injuries attributable to a fire could become a premises liability claim, it will be necessary to understand how the fire started. It will also be crucial to determining if the property owner’s negligence contributed to its occurrence.
If you or a loved one has been injured or died in a fire, we offer you our sympathy. We realize the devastation this has caused your life. Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafaljo to investigate whether you can make a claim. There is no cost to meet with us.