Fires: Reducing Risks & Understanding Your Rights
Fires are a leading cause of injury, death, and property damage in the U.S. In fact, statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) speak to how serious and prevalent the problem is:
- In 2015, fire departments in the U.S. responded to over 1,345,500 fires nationwide. These fires caused nearly 3,300 fatalities and more than 15,700 injuries to civilians, as well as 68 deaths and more than 68,000 injuries to firefighters.
- On average, fire departments respond to a fire every 23 seconds. These most commonly include structure fires, home fires, and highway vehicle fires.
- Fires claim the lives of roughly 9 victims every day in the U.S.
- In 2014, 236 victims died as a result of fires in Texas, the highest number of fire-related fatalities of any state in the nation.
Because fires have such an overwhelming potential for causing substantial damages, including death and catastrophic injuries such a burns and smoke inhalation, managing risks is always a top priority. As such, our Houston personal injury attorneys at Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs have provided the following information to help you reduce risks of preventable fires and injuries.
Home fires were the leading cause of civilian fire-related deaths (78%) and injuries (71%) in 2015. The leading causes of home fires were cooking equipment, heating equipment, electrical distribution and lighting equipment, and smoking materials. Here are a few tips that can help you prevent fires and fire-related injuries in your home:
- Install and regularly test smoke alarms on every level of your home, as well as inside bedrooms.
- Have a family fire escape plan and practice that plan at least twice a year.
- Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires. Never leave a stove, oven, fryer, or other cooking device unattended, and always check cooking equipment prior to leaving the home.
- If you smoke, take precautions by smoking outside, avoiding smoking in bed or when someone in the home uses oxygen, or when drowsy or medicated. Use sturdy ashtrays and douse used smoking materials with water before disposal.
- Never leave burning candles or fires unattended.
- Turn off heating equipment, including portable heaters, before leaving the home or going to sleep. Keep flammable materials, including clothing, at least three feet away from heating equipment and any other object that gets hot.
Highway vehicle fires were responsible for 14% of civilian fire deaths in 2015, which makes it critical for motorists and passengers to know how to react in the event of a car fire. Motor vehicles can catch fire for a number of reasons, including collisions and overturns. Remember these important tips:
- Make sure your car is regularly serviced by a qualified mechanic. If you notice leaks or other issues, have your vehicle checked immediately. Well-maintained cars are less likely to catch fire.
- If you need to transport gasoline, transport the smallest amount possible in a certified and sealed gas container. Never transport gas cans or propane in the passenger compartment.
- Be aware of potential danger signs, including loose or exposed wiring, leaking oil or fluids, loose oil caps, and sudden changes in fuel or fluid level or engine temperature.
- If your vehicle begins smoking or catching fire, pull over as quickly as possible when it is safe to do so and turn the engine off once you have come to a stop. Make sure everyone exits the vehicle, move at least 100 feet away from the vehicle, and never return to a burning car. Call 911.
Even when precautions are taken, fires can still occur when others are negligent. This is true in a range of circumstances, including fires in the home, vehicle fires, and fires in the workplace. Fortunately, victims who suffer harm in preventable fires, as well as families who lost loved ones in fatal incidents, have a right to seek a financial recovery of their damages from the at-fault party.
Because fires have many potential causes, these cases demand the attention of experienced lawyers who have the insight and resources to conduct investigations into the underlying cause and work toward holding negligent parties accountable for their failures to address potential hazards. For example, victims may pursue compensation when fires result from:
- Unsafe homes or commercial premises
- Unsafe workplaces
- Negligently operated machinery or equipment
- Defective products
- Defective auto parts
As a nationally recognized personal injury law firm with over a century of combined experience, Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs has the breadth of knowledge to handle all types of injury and wrongful death claims resulting from preventable fires. If you have a potential case you wish to discuss, contact our legal team for a free consultation.