Investigators now believe that a cooking mishap triggered a blaze which engulfed an entire apartment complex in April 2021. That fire seriously injured eight people and displaced about 100 others.
During the blaze, desperate people escaped the burning apartment building by leaping from upper-story windows. One man used a makeshift wire cable to lower himself out of the building. Many others were visibly trapped inside. The apartment tenants lost over $900,000 in property. Insurance did not cover all these losses.
If a cooking fire starts in your kitchen, the Florence Fire and EMS Department advises everyone to evacuate and call 9-1-1. Don’t stay and try to fight the fire.
Are Landlords Responsible for Accidental Fires?
Maybe. The answer largely depends on the landlord’s duty of care, as outlined below. First, we should talk about the A-word.
Use of this term has generated some controversy, especially in the area of vehicle collisions. According to advocates, it makes no sense that trains wreck, planes crash, and ships sink, but cars have accidents. A number of media outlets, such as the Associated Press, have stopped calling vehicle collisions “accidents.” Some governments, such as the State of Nevada and the City of New York, have made similar moves.
Cooking fires, electrical fires, and other such incidents are accidents in that they are unintentional. But they are certainly not accidental in the usual sense of this word. People accidentally lose their car keys. They don’t accidentally start Towering Inferno-type fires.
Frequently, the local building code establishes the standard of care in this area. These codes vary in different areas. Additionally, grandfather clauses sometimes protect older buildings. In other words, if Jim builds an apartment complex in 2000 and the building code changes in 2010, he might or might not have to update the structure to comply with the new law. These requirements often include:
Inspecting fire exits and ensuring clear pathways to exit doors,
Installing, maintaining and regularly inspecting smoke detectors, fire alarms and other fire detection equipment,
Keeping fire escapes clear,
Providing adequate means of escape in the event of a fire,
Ensuring that the property’s electrical wiring is properly installed and up to code, and
Providing fire escapes, fire extinguishers and sprinkler systems,
If the building falls short in any area, the owner might be negligent as a matter of law. If the relevant portion of the building code didn’t technically apply, a Lexington personal injury attorney might still be able to establish a lack of care, because of the ordinary negligence doctrine.
Landlords might also be responsible for arson and other intentional fires. These victim/plaintiffs must also prove that the criminal or other intentional act was foreseeable (possible). Evidence of foreseeability includes prior similar incidents in the area, tension in the building, such as a violent domestic dispute, and prior similar incidents at that location.
Your Claim for Damages
Obviously, fall injury claims have a number of moving parts. Nevertheless, a Lexington personal injury attorney is usually able to settle these claims out of court. Such resolutions typically benefit victims. They end the case earlier, which means victims get their checks sooner. Furthermore, an out-of-court settlement avoids the risks inherent in trials.
The first step in this process is ascertaining the claim’s settlement value. The settlement value is basically the sticker price. Just like the sticker price must include all components of a car, the settlement value must reflect the victim’s total losses. Therefore, settlement negotiations usually begin once medical treatment is substantially complete. If the claim settles too early, the final resolution might not reflect all future medical expenses. Victims could be financially responsible for these charges in these cases.
Because these claims are so complex, they rarely settle quickly. If that happens, most attorneys file legal claims. These legal claims pressure the insurance company to settle the claim and also protect the victim’s legal rights.
After the judge rules on any procedural motions, discovery usually begins. The law requires both sides to exchange information about their claims and defenses. So, discovery gives lawyers a chance to bolster the victim’s claims and prepare for insurance company defenses.
Frequently, injury claims settle during mediation. A neutral third party meets with both parties and tries to forge a settlement agreement. If both sides negotiate in good faith, which essentially means that they are fully committed to the process, mediation is usually successful.
Landlords are responsible for the safety of their tenants. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act. #goodelawyers