Liability for Fire Damage

Liability for Fire DamageA fire is a catastrophe for the owner of a building. Even if no one is injured, and even if the building was not destroyed, the damage can be very expensive and time-consuming to repair. Finding the person or company responsible for the fire and seeing that they are held responsible is an important step in recouping your damages and minimizing your financial loss. Determining the party liable for fire damages is, however, a difficult matter. An attorney who is experienced in fire-related litigation can handle such a complex case.

How Did the Fire Start?

While arson cases receive a lot of attention by the media, most fires are not set intentionally, but are started through carelessness. There are countless reasons a fire could start in a building:

  • An oven is left on or cooking food is left unattended
  • A smoker disposes of a cigarette while it is still lit
  • An unattended candle falls over and starts a fire
  • A child plays with matches or a lighter
  • Electrical wiring wears out, or has been installed improperly in the first place
  • Lightening strikes a home, causing a fire 

Setting a fire unintentionally is, unfortunately, a very easy thing to do. Any person who negligently causes a fire may be held liable for some or all of the damage caused by the fire.

Electrical Fires

Electrical fires are very common. When a fire is caused by an electrical problem, there are several potential defendants including the:

  • Public utility company that supplies power to the burned structure
  • Individual or company that installed the wiring
  • Landlord or owner of the burned building
  • Tenant who occupies the space where the fire started
  • State or municipality that failed to inspect a building carefully or take reasonable steps to fix fire hazards found during an inspection
  • Manufacturer of electrical machinery that ignited
  • Company that had exclusive control over electrical machinery that was negligently maintained 
  • Seller of an allegedly defective electrical product
  • Company that fixed or maintained an allegedly defective electrical product

Alarms and Sprinklers

Alarm and sprinkler systems are designed to provide warning of a fire, so that the fire can be extinguished or controlled quickly, and the damage kept to a minimum. If an alarm or sprinkler fails to function, the fire is able to spread and cause much more damage than it might otherwise have caused. The manufacturer, seller, distributor or installer of the faulty alarm or sprinkler could be held liable for at least some of your losses.

Conclusion

Determining who is liable for a fire can be difficult. An attorney with experience in fire litigation can assist with investigating the causes of the fire and determining potentially responsible parties.

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