Smoke Inhalation Injuries

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 What is a Fire Injury?

Fire injuries are injuries which are caused by uncontrolled or unexpected fires. Fire injuries typically occur because of the negligence of one or more parties.

A plaintiff may prove by showing that a defendant breached a duty of care which they owed and this breach was the actual and direct cause of the plaintiff’s injury. For example, a defendant may be found liable for a fire injury if they stored flammable chemicals in a negligent manner.

If the individual’s negligence is the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, the defendant may be held liable for the fire injuries which result.

When Do Fire Injuries Commonly Occur?

Fire injuries commonly occur in places where high heat or exposure to an open flame or furnace is required, which may include:

A fire injury may occur as a result of a spontaneous explosion or combustion. For example, if an individual lights a match in an area where flammable liquids are stored.

What are Smoke Inhalation Injuries?

A smoke inhalation injury occurs when an individual breathes too many toxic chemicals and fumes from a fire. These injuries can result in very serious conditions.

Smoke inhalation is the leading cause of death from fires, even before burns. Smoke inhalation may result in injury by several different mechanisms of the body, including:

  • Upper airway injuries;
  • Irritation of the airways;
  • Chemical injury to airways, typically due to soot;
  • Asphyxiation; and
  • Carbon monoxide toxicity and toxicity from other gasses, such as cyanide.

The severity of the smoke inhalation injury will depend upon an number of factors, including:

  • The type of fire involved;
  • The length of exposure to the fumes and smoke;
  • Whether or not the individual was in an enclosed space; and
  • Other factors.

It is important to note that smoke inhalation injuries may occur in a relatively short period of time.

Who Can be Held Liable for a Smoke Inhalation Injury?

A smoke inhalation injury may lead to legal liability and a lawsuit. A common claim in smoke inhalation cases is negligence.

For example, if an individual negligently starts a fire, they may be liable for smoke inhalation injuries which result from the fire. A product manufacturer may also be held liable for smoke inhalation injuries which are connected to product defects.

Common product defects related to smoke inhalation injuries include:

  • Automobile-related fires;
  • Cooking or grilling implements;
  • Volatile chemical substances; and
  • Other similar types of products.

Smoke inhalation injuries are also frequently connected with occupational injuries and work injuries.

What is the Definition of Negligence?

In the legal context, negligence refers to when an individual fails to use reasonable care that results in damage or injury to another individual or to property. Courts will determine the meaning of reasonable care by comparing the actions of the defendant in the case to the actions of other reasonable individuals in the same or similar situations.

Negligence claims are often included in personal injury claims, as negligence is one of the most common claims in tort law. There are two main categories of torts, intentional torts and strict liability torts.

With intentional torts, a defendant engages in an intentional act with the purpose of causing injury to the plaintiff. With a strict liability tort, a defendant may be found liable based upon their actions rather than based on their intentions.

In a negligence claim, the plaintiff is required to prove that the defendant was negligent by showing the following four elements:

  • Duty;
  • Breach;
  • Causation; and
  • Damages.

What is Product Liability?

Product liability is a legal concept that holds a seller, retailer, or manufacturer or a product liable for permitted defective products to reach consumers, regardless of the consumer’s negligence. Laws governing product liability determine what party or parties are responsible for a defective or dangerous product.

For example, a product manufacturer may be held liable for placing defective products into the stream of commerce. All parties in the distribution chain, however, may be found liable under product liability laws.

The state laws governing product liability claims may vary. A set of commercial statutes exist, called the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) that contain warranty rules affecting product liability.

Each state in the United States has laws modeled after the UCC.

What is a Defective Product?

Defective products are products which are unreasonably dangerous when they are used for their intended purposes without any alterations or interferences.

Specifically, defective products are products which cause injury to an individual because of a:

  • Design defect;
  • Manufacturing defect; or
  • Marketing defect.

Common examples of products which may be defective include:

  • Children’s toys;
  • Food items; and
  • Medical devices.

Plaintiffs are required to prove several elements in order to prove product liability, including:

  • The product was defective upon being manufactured;
  • The manufacturer, seller, or distributor of the product intended for it to reach the plaintiff without any changes being made through the process; and
  • The plaintiff and/or their property was injured in some way by the product.

Are There Any Legal Remedies for Smoke Inhalation Claims?

Depending upon each unique claim and the facts and circumstances surrounding each case, smoke inhalation claims may result in specific forms of legal remedies. In many cases, this will include some type of monetary damages award.

Monetary damages awards are intended to cover expenses such as:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages; and
  • In some cases, property damages.

In cases which involve defective products, the remedies may also include class action lawsuits and product recalls. A smoke inhalation injury may also be connected to intentional conduct, including if an individual commits arson and another individual is injured as a result.

In these types of cases, there may be criminal consequences, including:

  • Incarceration;
  • Criminal fines;
  • A combination of fines and incarceration; and
  • Various other criminal consequences.

What are Compensatory Damages in a Personal Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim is a legal action in which an individual has suffered mental, physical, or emotional injuries or property damage. These types of losses usually result from some type of accident.

If an injured individual files a lawsuit or legal claim, they will typically request some type of financial compensation for the party that is responsible for causing the accident. These damages are called compensatory damages because they are compensating the plaintiff for the injuries or losses they suffered.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Assistance with a Smoke Inhalation Injury Case?

A smoke inhalation injury lawsuit may involve serious injuries and will likely require legal assistance to resolve fully. An individual may be assisted by hiring a class action attorney in their area if they need guidance or help with their smoke inhalation injury claim.

These types of claims may be difficult to prevail in without the assistance of an attorney because they will likely require expert medical testimony. In addition, if the claim involves negligence, you will be required to prove each element or you will not prevail.

Your lawyer will be able to advise you regarding the laws governing personal injury claims in your state as well as your rights and options related to your claim. In addition, if you have to appear in court, your lawyer will represent you during those appearances.


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