Injured by a Home Heater Fire?
Hi. I’m Indiana personal injury attorney David Holub.
Home fire incidents where the ignition source is a space heater make the local news headlines far too frequently.
These fires happen because someone is using a space heater that is either defective or the heater is not being used as intended, or someone has neglected to properly maintain the heater.
You can find YouTube instructional videos on how to mount and install wall mounted space heaters. There are also self-help videos on how to clean and maintain space heaters. But not everyone installs or maintains space heaters as they are meant to be installed and maintained.
Depending on how a fire starts and spreads, a person who suffers injuries or property damage may be able to file a lawsuit to hold those who were negligent accountable.
Let’s say you are living in an apartment or duplex and a neighbor carelessly starts a space heater-based fire, or is otherwise negligent in igniting the building. Can you sue them?
The answer is most likely yes, but the important question is can you recover damages from them?
If they are a fellow apartment dweller, they may have no insurance to cover their liability, and if they too lose everything themselves in the fire, your ability to obtain compensation from them will be limited.
But, could other parties who were not involved in starting the fire be legally liable for your damages? The answer is that yes, they very well maybe.
For example, if a home or apartment you are renting is not up to code and a code required sprinkler system was not installed, or a defective smoke alarm fails to work properly, the injured party might be able to obtain compensation from those people who negligently failed to comply with a safety code, or failed install and maintain a working smoke alarm.
Or, if a landlord promises to provide fire extinguishers, but fails to fulfill that promise, the landlord my be liable for the consequences traced to that failure.
When a fire happens, it is important to hire an attorney immediately to help investigate the cause of the fire.
If for example, a heater malfunctions (or say a refrigerator shorts out) while a family is sound asleep at night, it may prove critical to collecting insurance and/or suing the manufacture or other responsible parties, to prove what happened, and make arrangements to preserve the remains of the device for later inspection and referencing as an exhibit in court.
Not long ago we heard of a case were a wall-mounted space heater caught fire because metal spacers to keep it a few inches from the drywall had not been installed. The manufacturer provided them, but the installer did not use them.
In another case, an apartment dweller was provided a charcoal grill to use on a wood deck by the landlord and the base of the grill was rusting and permitted hot coals to fall to the wood deck. The coals were caught by a gust of wind which ignited the enter apartment building.
If you or a loved one was injured in a fire, you could be owed money for medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages. We recommend that you contact an experienced attorney right away for advice.
If you would like to learn more about personal injury law, we encourage you to listen to our Personal Injury Primer Podcast where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss topics related to personal injury law. Also, we invite you to read our book “Fighting For Truth: A Trial Lawyer’s Insight Into What It Takes To Win” where we do our best to entertain and pull readers into the courtroom to give them a glimpse of the legal process and what it takes to win at trial.