Property owners have a duty to protect all residents, guests, and visitors to their buildings from serious harm. Whether this means routinely inspecting the building for hazardous conditions or scheduling repairs to electrical systems, property owners should always put safety first. Unfortunately, when a landlord or building manager takes shortcuts, it can result in catastrophic fires, serious injuries, and innocent lives being lost.
If you or someone you love was injured in a building fire, you should consider all of your legal options. If your losses were caused by a careless property owner, you deserve full compensation in a premises liability claim. At The Lenahan Law Firm, our Dallas building fire injury attorneys can work with local authorities to investigate the fire and determine if you can file a claim for compensation. To discuss your case in a free consultation, call us at (214) 295-1008.
A house fire can be a disaster, leading to serious injuries or death. Building owners are responsible for maintaining their properties and ensuring the safety of all guests, visitors, and residents. This includes maintaining all fire alarms, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers; ensuring all gas and electrical systems are up to code, clearing marked emergency exits, and removing debris and brush that could cause a fire. When a building owner fails to maintain a premises in a reasonably safe manner, that owner may be held liable for the injuries sustained by innocent people in a fire.
The types of catastrophic injuries sustained in a building fire can include:
- Smoke inhalation leading to asphyxiation or lung damage
- Third-degree burns
- Spinal cord injuries due to floor collapses and falls
- Traumatic brain injuries due to roof collapses
- Amputations due to severe crush injuries or burns
- Severe scars and disfigurements
- Chemical burns
Home fires killed 112 people in Texas in 2021, as reported by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The top five causes of residential fires are listed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
- Cooking: This is the leading cause of reported home fires and the second leading cause of home fire fatalities.
- Heating equipment: Space heaters and other heating equipment are the second leading cause of residential fires and injuries, and the third leading cause of home fire deaths.
- Electrical: Faulty wiring can cause electrical fires to start in a home. In 2014-2018, electricity was involved in approximately 34,000 residential fires every year.
- Smoking: Cigarettes, cigars, and pipes started an estimated 17,200 home fires in a recent year and accounted for 21% of residential fire deaths.
- Candles: Fire departments in the U.S. responded to approximately 7,400 residential fires that were started by candles every year from 2015-2019.
When a structure is built, it must be in compliance with codes and regulations. These regulations are enforced to help prevent disasters, such as building fires. Common safety code violations that can lead to residential fires in apartment buildings include:
- Lack of ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI)
- Failure to inspect fire alarms and fire sprinkler systems annually
- Lack of operating exit signs and emergency lighting
- Penetration of firewalls, leading to unimpeded spread of fire
If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a fire, finding out what caused the fire and who is responsible can be complicated. Our Dallas building fire lawyers have the knowledge, skills, and resources to thoroughly investigate the fire in which you were injured, determine what caused it and who is liable, and pursue every available source of compensation. We can secure evidence to support your claim, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and fight for your rights in trial, if necessary.
Building fires are investigated by the Fire Investigation and Explosive Ordnance Division of the Fire Prevention and Investigation Bureau of Dallas, which uses a team of investigators to determine the origin, cause, and circumstances surrounding a building fire. Structural fires may be caused by arson, faulty wiring, gas explosions, poor maintenance, and other causes. Based on the investigators’ report, a Dallas premises liability attorney can determine who is responsible for your injuries and who can be held accountable for compensation.
In many cases, the person to blame for a building fire is:
- The owner of the building, who may have failed to have the facility inspected for safety, failed to maintain the premises, or allowed dangerous chemicals to be stored in an unsafe manner.
- The gas company, if a gas leak led to an explosion and fire.
- Another entity, such as an electrical provider (for example, if they installed faulty systems).
A building’s “owner” could be a private individual, corporation, or government agency. The first step in filing a claim is to identify the building’s owner, as the process for filing a claim in Dallas varies based on the circumstances.
- Corporate Building Owner: A claim filed against the corporation may also name individuals within the corporation who failed to exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of visitors, guests, or employees in the building.
- Government Building Owner: A claim filed against the agency that owns or operates the building. Government agencies have special filing requirements with shorter deadlines, often within a month or two of the incident. Without filing a "notice of claim" in that time, you may lose the ability to recover compensation.
- Private Building Owner: A claim filed against the individual who owns the building, the landlord, maintenance company, or other entity that failed to ensure the safety of the building.
- Utility Company: If the fire occurred due to a faulty system installed by a utility provider, such as gas or electric, a claim could be filed against that utility provider.
No matter what happened, you will need to have an experienced attorney at your side who can advocate for your best interests. At The Lenahan Law Firm, we can work with investigators to determine the cause of the fire and fight to get you compensation for your injuries. Our Dallas personal injury lawyers have achieved justice in some of the most significant injury cases throughout the country. For a free case evaluation, call us at (214) 295-1008. There are no out-of-pocket costs and no risk in contacting us – we take all cases on a contingency-fee basis.