Because of increased fire hazards during the winter holiday season, October has been designated National Fire Prevention Month, in an attempt to spread awareness before the cold sets in. According to statistics provided by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there were more than 350,000 home fires in 2016 alone – and more than 60% of fire deaths occurred when there were no smoke alarms, or defective smoke alarms that failed to alert residents in time.
Whether you live in an apartment or rent your home, your property manager or landlord has certain responsibilities to you as a resident. This can include ensuring that smoke alarms are fully functional before disaster strikes, as well as covering any damages to the premises after a fire takes place. At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, our experienced premises liability lawyers can assist if your property has been damaged during a fire and your landlord is refusing to take accountability for their actions.
HOW CAN YOUR LANDLORD PREVENT FIRES?
Accidents can and do happen, and more than 50% of all home fires start in the kitchen due to inexperienced cooks. If you as the tenant fail to observe reasonable fire safety efforts, in the kitchen or anywhere else in your house, you may not have grounds to sue for the damages.
However, landlords are legally responsible for making sure that their premises are safe, habitable, and comfortable for you as a tenant. This means they are required to keep an up-to-date fire risk assessment for the property, and to maintain all electrical and heating equipment, in addition to smoke alarm and sprinkler systems. Failing to perform these basic tasks could make them liable for any subsequent fire damages, especially in cases where personal injury or even wrongful death is the tragic outcome.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DAMAGES AFTER A FIRE?
In addition to fire prevention, landlords are responsible for cleaning up the premises after a fire takes place. They may also be required to actively prevent injury during a fire, by training their staff in fire safety protocols and evacuation plans, and communicating these plans to residents. Although commercial properties may share this responsibility jointly with tenants, residential property owners are considered responsible for safety procedures during a fire. If no one has ever discussed evacuation plans, escape routes, or the location of fire-fighting equipment with you, that could mean your landlord or rental agency is liable for injury or damages in the wake of a disaster.
No matter how fires begin in the first place, one thing is clear: Landlords and apartment managers must make reasonable provisions for you and your family in the event of a fire, and they must have exercised due diligence in maintaining their property beforehand. This October, take a moment to review your building’s fire safety plans and procedures with your family, and to ask your landlord a few in-depth questions about smoke alarms and heating equipment. It could ultimately save your home and belongings – and your life.
If you need assistance with a fire damage lawsuit against a landlord or apartment manager, contact Hare Wynn at 855-965-1688. Our premises liability attorneys take on cases nationwide, and have spent the last 125 years helping our clients seek just compensation. As one of the top recognized plantiffs’ firms in the country, we’ve shown we can get results.