Apartment complexes are unfortunately common. Some complexes are small four-unit complexes while others are enormous high-rises that have hundreds, if not over a thousand units. If a fire breaks out in one unit, then it can easily spread to other units and harm many people, pets, and create sizable property damage.
From a statistics standpoint, the kitchen is the place that is the most likely to be the cause of a fire. Injuries are also most likely to stem from kitchen fire as well. Cooking is the primary reason for the inception of apartment fires that start in the kitchen. People who are elderly or over the age of 65 are the ones who die most often in apartment fires because of their more limited mobility. Having a smoke alarm that works properly will greatly increase a person’s chances of surviving a fire in apartment.
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If you have been injured by an apartment complex fire, you may have a claim against the owner or management company of the apartment complex. These entities clearly have an insurance policy, which means a large insurance company will be representing them. This can be a daunting challenge if you don’t have the lawyer who can represent you against them.
Apartments have to meet fire standard codes. There needs to be smoke detectors in each unit and in the hallways, with easy access out of the building and fire extinguishers within easy reach. If the smoke detectors are not working, this is a clear violation of the law. If the complex has a fire escape that is not working properly and that keeps someone from getting away from a fire is also a hazard.
A failure to maintain the furnace or water heater are another violation of law that can lead to an apartment complex or owner being sued. In addition to this, another huge cause for apartment fires happens when the apartment complex fails to properly install electrical wiring, which can cause fires to start.
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Obviously, there can also be instances when a tenant causes the fire, but if the fire spreads and grows larger because of faulty wiring and a failure to have fire-retardant walls or materials, then the apartment complex could be held liable as well. In many instances it may be hard to determine how a fire started or what materials were consumed in the fire.
It may also be important to understand what area was burned the most, if work had been done by a contractor, especially an electrician, in the area prior to the fire being started, and what areas were burned the worst.
Identifying the Right Party to Sue in an Apartment Fire Case
The responsible parties in an apartment complex case are typically:
- The gas company
- The general contractor who built the apartment complex
- The electrical company who was responsible for the faulty wiring
- The propane or gas company
- The company who made the fire alarm
- The owner or landlord of the apartment complex
- The company who made the defective heater, stove, or dryer.
This list is not meant to be complete, so there well may be other defendants who are either completely or partly responsible for the fire starting, including the tenants themselves. Identifying the appropriate party is crucial, however, difficult though that may be. Without naming the right defendant, your case could be lost before it even has a change. To increase your odds of winning, hiring an expert is normally crucial. An expert witness can come in and examine the scene and come up with a good idea of how the fire started and who was responsible for the fire’s inception.