Fires in apartments, particularly older buildings, place residents in extreme danger. Even when a fire originates in one unit, it can rapidly spread to other units and throughout the building before help arrives. Families and tenants could find themselves displaced by the fire, or in the worst cases, left grieving the sudden loss of a loved one who died in the fire. When an apartment fire leads to the wrongful death of an innocent person, who should be held responsible? Is the landlord at fault? Could the property owner or builder be to blame? Could the fire have been prevented? Had the building, or its safety systems, been allowed to fall into disrepair? In cases of an apartment fire, a wrongful death lawsuit cannot be filed until it has been determined how the fire started, how it spread, and whether another person’s negligence, failure to act, or wrongful actions were to blame. Apartment fires resulting in the wrongful death of a person can potentially be traced back to negligence on the part of the property owner, building owner, landlord, or property management company.
Premises Liability: Negligence in a Wrongful Death Case
Property owners, landlords, building maintenance staff, and property management companies all bear a legal responsibility in keeping the building and its premises free of known dangers that could put tenants, residents, or invited guests at risk of injury. Failure to properly maintain premises can lead to serious injury or a case of wrongful death. Many of the fires that have started and spread in apartment buildings could have been avoided, had the building and the safety system been in good repair. Some of the reasons a fire can spread through an apartment building and lead to the death of an innocent person include:
- Malfunctioning sprinkler systems
- Faulty smoke detectors – or none at all
- Shoddy construction
- Defective electrical wiring or systems
- Lack of proper lighting
- Malfunctioning heating units
- Damaged or faulty fire doors
- Locked or broken exit doors
- Poorly repaired or maintained fire escapes
- Lack of fire extinguishers or hoses
Each of these issues is the responsibility of the building owner, maintenance staff, landlord, or property management company. When negligence can be established, the deceased’s immediate family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking financial damages.
Residential Fire Statistics
According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), fires in residential properties are responsible for more deaths (75.7%), injuries (79.1%), and dollar loss (52.2%) than those at any other type of property. In 2013, 2,755 people lost their lives in residential building fires. Out of all the residential building fires resulting in fatalities that year, these were among the top causes:
- Unintentional carelessness
- Electrical malfunction
Why You Need an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
If you believe your loved one’s wrongful death in an apartment fire was caused by another party’s negligence or wrongdoing, it is important that you retain legal representation at once. Insurance companies may take advantage of victims and their families during a time of grief. It is not uncommon for family members to be offered lowball settlements following the wrongful death of a loved one. However, with an experienced Indiana wrongful death attorney from Jacobs Law on your side, you can dramatically improve your chances of being able to prove fault and pursue the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys will be able to evaluate your wrongful death claim, investigate the circumstances associated with the fire and your loved one’s death, and build a solid case to seek the maximum settlement in your situation. Should your case go to court, we will stand by your side every step of the way, fighting to protect your rights. Contact our firm right away to discuss your case. We are here to protect your right to fair compensation.