Air conditioning fires, or air conditioner fires, result from indoor air conditioning units malfunctioning in some way. In many cases, air conditioning fires result from malfunctions associated with the mechanical or electrical systems.

According to reports made by the National Fire Protection Association, air conditioners were responsible for an annual average of:

  • Twenty deaths;
  • 140 injuries; and
  • $82 million in property damage.

Air conditioning fires, sometimes also referred to a/c fires, can be associated with various types of air conditioning units. Some common examples include, but may not be limited to:

  • Central air conditioning apparatuses;
  • Floor air conditioning models;
  • Window air conditioner models; and
  • Portable units.

Accidents caused by air conditioning fires frequently result in serious burn injuries. Burn injuries occur when a person comes into contact with a source of heat. Depending on the severity of the burn, they can cause lifelong pain as well as a significant financial burden.

Additionally, air conditioning fires can result in property damage. These fires are somewhat similar to heater fires, due to their interaction with central heating and other factors in a home.

Can I File A Lawsuit For An Air Conditioning Fire?

Generally speaking, you would bring a personal injury lawsuit for civil claims involving burn injuries, such as those associated with an air conditioning fire. The suit would most likely be based on the legal theory of negligence; meaning, that someone associated with the air conditioning unit was negligent, which caused your burns.

Negligence is the legal theory that allows injured parties to recover for the carelessness of others. A person is said to be negligent if they were careless given the circumstances of the situation. Negligence has four elements that must be proven in order to recover a damages award for injuries caused by the accident; in this instance, an air conditioning fire. Those four parts are:

  1. Duty: A duty is a responsibility that one person owes to another. Generally speaking, people going about their business owe a duty of reasonable care to each other; this refers to the level of care that an ordinary and prudent person would use in the same situation;
  2. Breach: A breach occurs when a person’s level of care falls below the level that is required by their duty;
  3. Causation: Very simply put, the breach of duty must be the cause of injury. While the legal test for causation is more complex than that, the basic test is “but for” one party’s actions the injury would not have occurred; and
  4. Damages: Generally speaking, there must be some sort of harm that occurred. The specific type of injury can vary, from property damage, to emotional stress and lost wages.

In order to determine that the other party was negligent in some way, all of the above elements must be met. If one cannot be proven, negligence cannot be established.

You may also be able to bring a lawsuit under the legal theory of product liability. Product liability claims hold the manufacturer or seller of a product accountable for placing a defective product into the stream of commerce. Any party that is responsible for any part of the manufacture of the product may be held liable, and any seller who sells or sold the defective product may also be liable. An example of this would be how if a faulty stove caused a burn injury, you could sue the manufacturer of the stove.

If the accident occurred while at work, your employer could be held liable if they allowed faulty equipment to be present in the workplace which caused your injury. In such cases, you may be able to bring a worker’s compensation claim in addition to a negligence or product liability claim. However, it is important to note that worker’s compensation payments generally provide a considerably small percentage of the cost of recovery for burn injury victims specifically.

As previously mentioned, many air conditioner fires are caused by mechanical or electrical failures. These may be caused by some sort of defect within the air conditioning unit. In such cases, the manufacturer of the air conditioning unit may be held liable under a defective product legal theory. An example of this would be if there was a defect with the materials that were used in the unit, which led to a fire or explosion and then injury.

In other cases, a landlord or other party responsible for maintaining safe premises can be held liable for an air conditioning fire. An example of this would be if a property manager knew that an air conditioning unit was dangerous to use, yet failed to make necessary repairs which would make the premises safe for visitors or patrons.

Are There Any Legal Remedies For Air Conditioning Fire Cases?

In addition to injury, air conditioning fires can lead to serious property damage; in some especially serious cases, air conditioning fires can be fatal. Such cases can be complex and would most likely require legal action in order to fully resolve any disputes or issues. Legal remedies for air conditioning fire cases would likely mirror those awarded in personal injury cases, and may result in a monetary damages award intended to reimburse the non-liable party for losses.

Personal injury claims are legal actions in which a person has suffered physical, mental, and/or emotional injuries. This also includes property damages. Such losses generally result from some sort of accident, such as an air conditioning fire. If the injured party files a claim or lawsuit, they will generally be requesting compensatory damages.

Compensatory damages are generally awarded for the purpose of restoring the injured party to the position they were in before the harm or loss occurred. In general, there are two main types of compensatory damage awards:

  • Special damages: As previously mentioned, these damages are intended to restore the injured party to the position they were in before the harm or injury occurred. Examples generally include damages that can be calculated, such as:
    1. Medical expenses;
    2. Property damage;
    3. Loss of wages or earnings; and/or
    4. Other such quantifiable losses.
  • General Damages: These damages may be awarded for losses that are not easily determined through monetary calculations. These can include losses associated with:
    1. Emotional distress;
    2. Defamation; and/or
    3. Loss of consortium or companionship.

In terms of state laws which govern compensatory damages, they may vary widely from state to state. The most considerable difference would be that some states may place limits on compensatory damages, especially general damages.

What Is A Class Action Lawsuit?

In cases involving several people who are injured from the same type of air conditioning product, a class action lawsuit may be filed. A recall of the product may also be issued.

To summarize, a class action is a lawsuit generally brought by one or more persons on behalf of a group of others that are in a similar situation. Everyone involved is required to share similar legal issues, there must be enough individuals involved that it would not make sense to bring separate lawsuits.

Initially, one person or group of people will bring a putative class action lawsuit against the defendant. The court decides whether to certify the lawsuit as a class action. If court certified, the original group will represent the entire class action group, and the process will move forward as a class action lawsuit.

If the court should refuse to certify the class, they will often provide their reason as to why. Generally speaking, it is because they do not think that the class is complete. What this means is that there could be more potential plaintiffs to join the class.

The disputing parties may compromise on a settlement, and then present it to the court. If court approved, members of the suit can opt out of the settlement; additionally, any member can object to the settlement with the court. The court will decide if the settlement is fair, considering the injury suffered by the plaintiffs as well as the size of the class.

If the settlement is low for a large class, each class member will get very little. Depending on the nature of the injury, the court may require that the settlement be larger so that each class member can get a fair portion.

Do I Need An Attorney For Air Conditioning Fire Problems?

If you have been injured because of an air conditioning fire, you will need to consult with an experienced and local defective product lawyer.

An attorney will be aware of your state’s laws that will determine your rights and legal options, as well as if there are any class action lawsuits you may join. Additionally, your lawyer will also be able to represent you in court, as needed.