Whether you live in a rented apartment, public housing, or even your own home, a house fire can happen to anyone. And all too often, these tragic events lead to a loss of life. Depending on the type of housing you are living in, and the circumstances surrounding the fire, there could be countless people responsible for the fire.
So the first question in determining whether or not you can claim wrongful death from a home fire in Philadelphia is whether or not there is someone liable for the fire. While every situation is unique, we’ll explore some of the factors involved in proving liability for various scenarios.
Liability and House Fires
Liability for a house fire could include numerous entities, including, but not limited to:
- Product manufacturers
- Property owners
- Contractors who have worked on the home
- Repair or maintenance workers
Let’s look into each of these potentially liable parties on a closer level.
Product Manufacturers and House Fires
Product manufacturers may find themselves facing a lawsuit over their product if it causes a fire due to faulty manufacturing. Electrical or heating components in toasters, space heaters, and other electronic devices have been known to cause house fires when defective.
When attempting to prove that the product was faulty, the victim must prove that they were using the product in the way it was intended to be used, but that the product itself was defective, and that defect is what caused the fire. Proving product liability can be extremely difficult, and you will need to contact a lawyer experienced in not only product liability law, but wrongful death cases as well.
Landlords or Property Owners
Landlords and property owners are responsible for keeping smoke detectors active and in good condition. Under Pennsylvania law, a landlord may be held liable for a fire even if that fire was caused by a third party criminal act.
The landlord could be held liable in this instance if the landlord created a situation that resulted in access by criminals, such as a faulty door, or poor lighting. A landlord may also be held liable if they knew of the potential for such access and failed to fix the issue. If you have questions about what responsibilities your landlord has in regards to fire safety in your municipality, our expert team of attorneys can help answer your questions.
Contractors and Repair Persons
If faulty wiring causes an electrical fire, the contractor or repair person who worked on the wires may be held liable, if they knowingly performed below standard repair work. HVAC systems, and electrical appliances can spark slow smoldering electrical fires that erupt quickly, leaving people trapped inside with little time to respond. If the wiring or appliances were recently repaired or worked on shortly before the fire occurred, you will want to hire a skilled attorney to investigate whether or not the contractor may be liable for the fire.
Common Causes of House Fires
House fires can start with seemingly innocuous, everyday household items. Some of the top causes of house fires include:
- Faulty Cooking equipment, such as slow cookers or toasters
- Portable heaters
- Clothes dryers
- Faulty wiring
- Smoking indoors
- Exposed flames such as candles
Of course, no one expects that their clothes dryer is suddenly going to start a fire. But bad wiring, poor manufacturing, or misuse of a product can cause even a seemingly harmless toaster oven to cause a deadly fire.
Wrongful Death From a Home Fire
When we think of death caused by a home fire, we often think of dying within the blaze. But often, death from a fire comes after. Heart attacks, lung damage, and other serious burn injuries and other health issues can occur as a result of a fire, and when these issues arise months or even years after the fire, it can be incredibly difficult to prove that the fire was the instigating factor in the death.
Home fires in Philadelphia tragically happen every year, and many of them could be avoided, if not for carelessness on the part of product manufacturers, landlords, or shoddy workmanship on the part of contractors. If you or a loved one have questions about claiming wrongful death from a home fire in Philadelphia, reach out to the expert team of Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyers at Thistle Law today for your free consultation. We can be reached at 215-568-6800, or by filling out our contact form here.