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Could the Landlord be Responsible for a Deadly Apartment Fire?

Posted on by in Wrongful Death

Home structure fires are a deadly, serious issue that, as revealed in the discussion below, claim nearly 2,5K civilian lives a year and the lives of brave first responders who make the ultimate sacrifice. As a Miami apartment fire and wrongful death lawyer, Sean M. Cleary helps the injured and grieving recover compensation from those responsible for apartment fires whether it's a landlord or the manufacturer of a faulty device who does not provide appropriate fire safety equipment.

According to the NFPA Home Structure Fires report, over a five year period, there were approximately 357K structure fires each year. These blazes cost $6.9 billion in direct property damage, injured 12,89K civilians, and claimed 2,47K civilian lives each year. Looking at these numbers differently, one of every 335 households reported a home fire each year, and every day seven people in the United States died in a home fire.

Not all fires can be attributed to negligence, but some do stem from a landlord's failure to provide adequate heating or fire safety equipment in the building or to keep up with a building's electrical maintenance. Some landlords will even endanger tenants by withholding utilities like gas or heat to force tenants out of affordable housing units.

There have been some deadly apartment fires in recent years where a landlord's carelessness was either the reported cause of the blaze or a contributing factor.

Lawsuit filed for deadly apartment complex fire

Floridians may have heard about the deadly apartment fire in Texas. Three lawsuits have now been filed in Houston on behalf of six of the survivors and one of the deceased victims.

The Iconic Village owner, the property management company and the apartment manager have been hit with three multi-million lawsuits after a deadly fire at the San Marcos, TX apartment complex claimed the life of five people, injured others, and displaced more than 200 residents.

The fire broke out in the morning and destroyed Building 500 at Iconic Village, which had two stories and a center courtyard. It then spread to Building 300 and a building in the adjacent Vintage Pads apartments.

The fire alarms in the building didn't activate, and an inspection performed by the City of San Marcos revealed that the complex did not have any fire suppression equipment or working fire sprinkler systems.

The first lawsuit was filed by the parents of a young man who suffered third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body and head trauma as he tried to escape the fire. Another lawsuit was filed by the father of a young man who died in the fire; the lawsuit was later joined by five people who managed to escape their apartments. Another lawsuit was filed by two roommates who were both hurt when they jumped from a second-floor window to flee their residence.

Plaintiffs claimed negligence on the part of the owner and managers by, among things, failing to provide a fire sprinkler system, adequately inspecting and testing fire alarm systems and warning people that the apartments were unreasonably dangerous. The plaintiffs demanded compensatory and punitive damages.

By bringing suit, the victims might recover damages to compensate them for their economic and non-economic losses. In shocking cases such as what happened in the San Marcos apartment complex fire, it may be possible to recover punitive damages.

Deadly condo building fire in Pompano Beach

A condominium building caught fire in Pompano Beach, leaving one man dead and about 100 residents displaced. A family member identified the victim as a retired psychiatrist who had a practice in Brooklyn.

Although the fire affected only one apartment, the smoke spread rapidly down the hallway and to nearby residences. The man died of apparent smoke inhalation after going to the bathroom to speak with someone on the phone. The bathroom had no ventilation.

The 15-story high-rise building did not have fire sprinklers. If it did have fire sprinklers, the fire would have gone differently, and possibly would have been extinguished by the fire sprinkler system.

When can a landlord be responsible for an apartment fire?

There are three main situations when a landlord could be responsible for an apartment fire.

  • First, landlords have a responsibility to make sure that a building is up to code. When an apartment is not up to code, the likelihood of it catching on fire increase. This means that landlords could be at least partly liable even if they were contributory negligent.
  • Also, sometimes landlords fail to fit working smoke detectors inside an apartment. This does not automatically mean that the landlord is directly responsible for the fire, but it could mean that the landlord is liable for any damages that could have been prevented if the smoke detectors had been installed.
  • Further, landlords may try to control the temperature of the apartment. When the landlord does this, a tenant has nothing left to do except to resort to other methods of heating. If the landlords could have prevented the fire and there is evidence that they knew that there was a chance a fire could start, the landlord will be responsible for paying for the damages.

You have the right to a safe home

For those living in apartment buildings a safe home means a building with regularly inspected fire extinguishers on the property, safe electrical wiring, smoke detectors in each apartment unit, and accessible fire escapes.

If your apartment does not comply with these safety standards, you have the right to speak up and demand better from your landlord. And, if your landlord fails to provide a safe apartment building and your family is hurt as a result, our burn and fire injury attorneys may be able to help you hold the responsible parties accountable by filing a lawsuit.

Lawyer for burn injuries and fire deaths in Miami

If you or someone you love suffered a fire injury and someone else was responsible, you might have a civil claim.

Examples include suits brought against landlords for failing to provide working smoke detectors and claims against manufacturers when products like children's clothes are not sufficiently fire-resistant.

Our Miami home fire attorney is here to help you get the compensation you deserve. Fill out our free case evaluation form online or call 305.416.9805 to learn more.

For questions and free legal advice to help individuals please call us

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.