Fire and Burn Injuries Caused by Defective Appliances and Smoke Detector Fails

What Can I Do When a Defective Appliance Causes a Fire?

There is little doubt that appliances make our lives easier. However, defective household items, such as cooking appliances, HVAC, space heaters, and fireplace equipment, lighting, and other electrical items, pose a deadly fire hazard. They can cause devastating levels of damage to our homes and put our loved ones in danger. 

Defects and malfunctions in appliances cause homes that catch fire cause more than 360,000 fires per year, more than 10,000 injuries, and more than 2,200 deaths. 

Which Appliances Seem to Have the Most Problems?

Accounting for the largest number of residential fires each year are:

  • Cooking equipment such as ranges, ovens, and microwaves, 
  • Heating equipment such as HVAC, fireplaces, chimneys and space heaters, and 
  • Household lighting, wiring, plugs, and other electrical equipment. 

Although accounting for a smaller percentage, a significant number of fires result from washing machines and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, and other large household appliances. 

Most of the injuries and deaths associated with defective appliances were caused by fires and explosions caused by defective appliances. When a home catches fire due to a household appliance, many types of injuries can result. Among the most common injuries are:

  • Burns, 
  • Electric shock and electrocution, 
  • Entrapment, 
  • Asphyxiation,
  • Cuts, 
  • Crushing injuries, and 
  • Choking.

Any of the above injuries can be catastrophic and even deadly.

What if the Problem is a Defective Smoke Alarm?

According to the U.S. Fire Association, although the overall trend of home fire statistics is decreasing, there were still more than 1.3 million household appliance fires reported in 2018, leading to more than 3,100 deaths and leading to more than $25 billion in property damage.

Unfortunately, it is far too common for defective products to cause accidental fires, which often lead to burns and other serious injuries. If a smoke alarm itself is defective, it can make matters worse. A properly functioning smoke alarm can alert a family and give them time to escape a dangerous situation, but a defective one can make the situation worse.  Depending on the size of your home, its design, and the location of the fire loved ones could end up seriously injured or worse when a smoke alarm doesn’t go off in a timely manner.

There are many possible reasons why a smoke alarm may fail to detect smoke and sound the alarm when it should, but the results are usually the same, including serious property damage, physical injuries, sometimes serious and occasionally fatal. These injuries can include burns, of course, but it can also lead to anoxic brain injury, or even suffocation. Fire alarm failures can be especially dangerous when they happen in the middle of the night, when most people are sleeping.

Who Can Be Held Liable When a Smoke Alarm Fails?

As you can see, any time a smoke alarm fails due to a defect, the consequences can be severe, even fatal, and they can and sometimes should lead to a lawsuit. When that happens, liability may be attributed to a number of different parties. For example, the manufacturer of the smoke alarm may be held liable if it can be proven there was some sort of defect. In some cases, the problem may have been with the design, but sometimes, the defect happened during the manufacturing process. Either way, the manufacturer may be found liable. 

In other cases, however, if you are injured at work due to an employer’s failure to ensure a safe working environment, that employer may be held liable. For example, if the employer placed smoke alarms in the wrong places, or if they failed to maintain them properly, they may have violated their mandate to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Likewise, if the smoke alarm came with your rental, the landlord and/or manager may be liable for damages and injuries if they failed to maintain the smoke alarms or they placed recalled or otherwise defective in your home, especially if doing so may have been a money-saving measure.

What are Legal Remedies for a Smoke Alarm Failure Claim?

In most cases, claims for smoke alarm failures will require the victim to file a lawsuit to gain a resolution, which usually comes in the form of an award for monetary damages. These awards will cover a number of losses, such as hospital bills and other medical expenses, as well as property damages due to the resulting fire, and any other costs that may apply, including PTSD and mental and emotional consequences. If there is a wrongful death involved, it may also include funeral expenses.

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