According to the National Fire Protection Association, fire departments respond to a fire every 24 seconds. A fire at a home or business may result in financial hardship, emotional damages, personal injuries, or other property damage. In fact, fire damage ranks in the top five of the most costly and common insurance claims. One of the most common fire damage claims involves electrical fires.
Electrical fires result from faulty electrical wiring, or failure to maintain electrical wiring. Some electrical fires happen due to problems in house wiring or appliance failure; many occur because a homeowner overloads electrical outlets, or extension cords. To be more specific, electrical fires begin in electrical panels from overloaded circuits, or the age of the panel. Overloading occurs when the electricity’s distribution is inadequate for any reason.
An example of this would be an electrical fire occurring on the inside of a homeowner’s walls, due to improperly insulated wires.
What Are the Most Common Types of Electrical Fires?
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the five most common examples of electrical fires are:
- Faulty Outlets and/or Appliances: In order to avoid electrical fires caused by faulty electrical outlets, or old and outdated appliances, you should never use an appliance with a worn or frayed cord. Another very common example is when someone runs a cord under a rug;
- Light Fixtures: This most commonly when a bulb with the incorrect wattage for that specific light fixture is installed. Additionally, fires could begin when flammable materials are placed over a lampshade;
- Misuse of Extension Cords: Appliances should be directly plugged into an electrical outlet, and not plugged into an extension cord. Extension cords should be temporary measures and not utilized for long term use;
- Misuse of Space Heaters: An electrical fire may occur when a space heater is placed too closely to combustible surfaces. An especially dangerous example would be coil heaters, due to the fact that the coils can become so heated that they nearly instantaneously ignite nearby flammable surfaces; and
- Outdated Electrical Wiring: For safety and fire prevention purposes, a building’s electrical wiring should be inspected and possibly replaced every twenty years. This is because outdated breaker boxes generally have worn connectors. These connectors do not work, which causes the electrical system to overload and start an electrical fire.
What Is a Fire Injury?
Fires, especially electrical fires, can cause a large amount of damage to property. They can also cause a vast number of fire injuries, which are a type of personal injury. A fire injury is any type of injury caused by an uncontrolled or unexpected fire. Such injuries generally occur due to the negligence of one or more parties. An example of this would be how a person may be found liable for a fire injury when they store flammable chemicals in a negligent manner.
The most common examples of fire injuries include burns, which are differentiated by degrees of severity, and respiratory injury resulting from smoke inhalation. Death from fire injuries is also unfortunately common.
Can I Sue Someone for My Electrical Fire?
Depending on the facts and circumstances of each individual electrical fire, you may be able to sue for relief. An example of this would be if you bought a new appliance that spontaneously combusts, even though it was properly installed into a working outlet. You may sue the manufacturer and seller of the appliance. Another example would be if your space heater is placed too close to curtains, which causes an electrical fire. You may be able to sue the space heater manufacturer if the space heater failed to have adequate warnings of risk for fire.
You may also be able to sue the construction company if they improperly wired your electrical in your home, which resulted in a house fire. If you’re a renter, you may be able to sue the owner of the property. Liability for a fire injury can depend on many factors. And, as previously mentioned, most fire injury claims are based on a negligence claim. Meaning, only parties who actually owe a duty of care can be held liable for a fire injury.
The following parties can typically be sued for causing or allowing an electrical fire:
- Safety inspectors;
- Work supervisors who are required to ensure the safety of employees;
- Product manufacturers and/or designers; and/or
- Home owners under limited circumstances.
What Legal Remedies Are Available for Electrical Fire Claims?
Legal remedies in an electrical fire accident lawsuit typically include a monetary damages award, which is intended to reimburse the person for their losses. Costs covered by a damages award usually include hospital expenses, medical bills, and other costs such as lost wages.
Again, electrical fire claims are generally attributed to negligence; in general, the defendant must prove that some sort of harm occurred. The type of injury can vary but generally includes property damage, emotional stress, and lost wages.
There are a variety of defenses to negligence charges, depending on the specifics of each case. The most obvious defense is to dispute any of the components of negligence. Two related defenses are contributory and comparative negligence. Both defenses ask whether the person injured is in some way responsible for the injury they suffered.
In contributory negligence jurisdictions, any negligence on the part of the injured person is a total bar to recovery. In a comparative negligence jurisdiction, the injured person can still recover, but the recovery is reduced by how negligent they themselves were.
Assumption of the Risk is a defense that essentially states that the injured person knew they were doing something inherently dangerous, and chose to do it anyway. If this defense is successful, then the defending party will not have to pay for damages.
Should I Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Help With an Electrical Fire Lawsuit?
If you have experienced an electrical fire due to the negligence of someone else, you should immediately consult with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine who may be held liable for the damages you suffered, and will represent you in court as needed.