Preventing Fires and the Legal Liabilities of Property Owners

DALLAS, Texas. Fires in California have dominated the news cycle for months. While these large fires are often seasonal in nature and linked to drier climates, personal property fires are highly preventable, but also likely to happen year-round. If you invite people onto your property and if you rent out your home, you may be required to take precautions to keep invitees and renters safe from fire hazards. Premises liability laws require that property owners take reasonable precautions to prevent injuries on their property. What are some fire safety precautions you should take?

According to AARP, homeowners and property owners should always check that their fire alarms are in working order. Next, consider your home’s electrical grid. Older homes may not be equipped to handle powering your big screen television, your computer, your Wi-Fi system, and your stereo. Check cords for fraying wires and consider purchasing surge protectors. Finally, know your escape route in the event of a fire. If you have renters, make sure that they know your fire safety plan.

Failing to have proper fire precautions in place can cost you. The New York Times recently ran a piece on the tragic “Ghost Ship” fire in Oakland. The building had not been equipped with fire alarms, sprinklers, or emergency exit lighting. Police and city officials had reportedly been aware of the fire hazard the building posed, with one officer noting a concern with the electrical wires. Initial reports on the cause of the fire cite electrical issues as a known cause. 36 people died in the Ghost Ship fire.

Yet, it appears that city officials were aware of the fire risk. According to the Times, Oakland signed a contract with a public relations firm that would help the city minimize its liabilities should a fire occur. The families of the victims have sued the local electrical and gas company for failing to inspect the warehouse. The families have also sued the city of Oakland. Suing government agencies can be challenging because government agencies can only be sued if they consent. However, a judge agreed to let the lawsuit go forward, saying that the city failed to take measures to prevent the fire. The State of California pursued a felony manslaughter case against the two men alleged to have overseen the warehouse art collective.

If you’ve been hurt in a fire, or if a loved one has been hurt in a fire, what are your options? It may be possible to sue city and state agencies if their fire response failed, but these lawsuits can be difficult to file. Government agencies must consent to be sued and there is a distinctive process individuals must follow when pursuing these claims. More often, victims and their families sue property owners for failing to take measures to prevent fires—such as failing to fix faulty wiring, failing to install proper fire alarms, or failing to have proper exit procedures in the event of a fire.

The Lenahan Law Firm are Dallas, Texas catastrophic injury lawyers who may be able to assist you if you or a loved one has been hurt in a fire. Fire injuries can be catastrophic and life-altering. If you or a loved one has suffered serious burn injuries due to the negligence or neglect of another person or party, due to a car accident, or due to premises liability, contact the Lenahan Law Firm today in Dallas, Texas.


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