Who is Liable in a Residential Fire?
Reports of three-year-old Kaden Meacham, who was rescued after being trapped inside a burning house last week, have turned tragic. The child died the following day due to thermal and inhalation injuries.
It was suggested that the three-year-old started the fire in the early morning hours after attending a vigil for another family member the night before.
While house fires are often accidental, there are times when liability comes into play if someone is injured or killed. Forensic investigators will examine the premises to determine the cause of the fire to determine whether it was accidental, on purpose, or perhaps the result of someone’s negligence.
Top Causes of House Fires in the United States
Unfortunately, home fires happen far too frequently. In 2018, there were 379,600 residential building fires in the United States.
House fires are unexpected and can quickly escalate. According to the National Fire Protection Association’s 2019 report, most residential house fires are the result of
- Cooking accidents
- Heating devices such as space heaters
- Electrical fires caused by malfunctioning outlets and wiring
- Careless smoking
Every family should have an emergency fire escape plan.
Unfortunately, not all fires are accidental. Some are intentional.
In Nevada, the legal definition of arson is when an individual “willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns or causes to be burned, or who aids, counsels or procures the burning of any” property.
Arson is a criminal offense and can result in serious penalties. Unfortunately, a criminal conviction does nothing to help someone who may have been injured in the fire. In this case, in order to be compensated for injuries, the victim would need to file a civil claim against the arsonist to recover damages.
When a Property Owner is Responsible For Injuries That Are Sustained in a Fire
Premises liability laws hold property owners responsible for keeping their premises safe for all who use them. Consequently, if an owner was negligent in keeping the property safe and it resulted in an injury or fatality, the owner may be held responsible for any injuries and damages the victim sustained.
The cornerstone of premises liability is negligence. If the property owner was negligent in keeping their property safe, they can be held liable for any injuries. A premises liability civil claim can compensate a victim for any medical costs associated with their injuries, any lost income, and any pain and suffering that they have endured.
If the fire resulted in the death of an individual, family members may be entitled to bring a wrongful death claim against the owner of the property.
But it is the burden of the victim to prove that the owner knew about the hazard that created the fire and failed to take the measures needed to prevent it. Consequently, it can be difficult to prove that a house fire was caused by the owner’s negligence. An experienced Las Vegas premises liability lawyer can help determine if there may be a valid claim.
Product Liability and House Fires
Some house fires are caused by defective products in the home. When a defective product causes a fire, the manufacturer may be held liable for any injuries and damages in a product liability claim.
Over the years, many common household products have been found to cause fires because of a defect in their manufacturing or design. If the house fire was caused by a dangerous or defective product and the fire resulted in injuries, the manufacturer of the product may be held liable through a product liability lawsuit.
While some residential house fires are purely accidental, in others, an injured party may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. Getting the assistance of a skilled Las Vegas personal injury attorney is critical in these cases.
Contact LV Personal Injury Lawyers to understand your legal rights if you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence.