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Fire Personal Injury Lawyer for Defective Products

Fire Personal Injury Lawyer for Defective Products

Firefighters quelling a raging fire

In this article, we’ll break down the following:

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), approximately 3,800 people die, and 14,700 others are injured annually in fire-related accidents.

Everyday household appliances, electronic devices, commercial equipment, and machinery can overheat, explode, or catch on fire, causing catastrophic injuries. Burn victims are often left with severe scarring and permanent disfigurement that cause immense pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one has sustained a fire-related injury due to a defective product, an experienced fire personal injury lawyer can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Here’s everything you need to know about filing a fire personal injury lawsuit.

Defective Products and Fire Personal Injuries

When you buy a product, you expect it to be safe. You expect it to work the way it is supposed to. You have no reason to believe that it could harm you or damage your property.

Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are made to the highest possible safety standards. They must meet the manufacturing specifications set out by federal regulatory authorities and other non-governmental oversight bodies within their respective industries.

If the products they produce pose inherent risks to the consumer, manufacturers should provide clear usage instructions and warnings to minimize the potential for injury. Unfortunately, unsafe products may sometimes end up on the market and can cause serious harm to consumers.

Several types of defective products have been known to cause fires. Seemingly innocuous everyday appliances like toasters, ovens, hair dryers, electric kettles, and space heaters can malfunction and catch on fire. Defective vehicle components and commercial equipment can also cause fires.

These fires can result in devastating injuries, property destruction, and even death. If a defective product you were using caused a fire, you have the legal right to seek recourse against the manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or any other party in the chain of distribution you deem responsible for your injuries and damages.

Types of Defective Products That Can Cause Fire Personal Injuries

Common types of defective products that can cause fire-related injuries include the following:

  • Defective gas appliances, such as water heaters, stoves, grills, laundry dryers, air-conditioning/heating systems, etc.
  • Faulty electrical appliances such as toasters, ovens, hair dryers, electric kettles, space heaters, etc.
  • Faulty lithium-ion battery-powered devices and equipment, such as hoverboards, electric scooters, electric vehicles (EVs), smartphones, tablets, laptops, vapes/e-cigarettes, smartwatches, etc.
  • Malfunctioning vehicles and machinery
  • Unsafe consumer products that overheat, explode, or catch on fire

Common Causes of Fire Personal Injuries From Defective Products

While some fires are due to the consumer’s negligence, more often than not, they result from defective products or other people’s negligence.

Below is a list of the common causes of fire personal injuries resulting from defective products.

  • Exploding lithium-ion batteries
  • Faulty extension cords
  • Faulty heating and cooling systems
  • Faulty motor parts and components
  • Faulty wiring in electrical outlets
  • Improperly assembled or installed heating components
  • Overheating due to component failure or poor ventilation
  • Short circuits from poorly insulated cords
  • Use of flammable materials in the product’s housing
  • Malfunctioning smoke and fire detection systems

Liability in Fire Personal Injury Cases Caused by Defective Products

If a defective product catches on fire, injuring you, you must first seek immediate medical attention. Once you do, the next step is to assign liability. In other words, who is responsible for your injuries?

If you were using the product as intended, you could bring a product liability action against the manufacturer or any other entity in the distribution chain, depending on their role in your injuries.

You may recover compensation if your injuries and damages were due to a:

  • Manufacturing defect: An error or contamination that occurs during the manufacturing process. For instance, a space heater with the wrong thermostat wattage capacity.
  • Design defect: An error in the product’s basic blueprint that rendered it unreasonably dangerous when used as intended. For instance, a lithium-ion battery that overheats while charging.
  • Marketing defect: The absence of clear usage instructions and warnings about known dangers associated with using the product. For instance, a failure to warn that an electric kettle should not be used with an extension cord.

That said, if the actions of another party outside the chain of distribution played a role in the fire that caused your injuries, they might be held liable for your injuries. For instance, if faulty wiring in your home’s electrical system caused the fire, you can sue the landlord or general contractor for negligence.

An experienced product liability lawyer can help you identify all the liable parties in your claim.

Examples of Fire Personal Injury Cases Due to Defective Products

Faulty Electrical Appliances

  • A consumer’s apartment caught on fire due to faulty electrical components. The fire resulted in the death of their pet and extensive, irrecoverable damage to their belongings.

Faulty Lithium-Ion Battery-Powered Devices and Equipment

  • A consumer alleged that a laptop they had purchased 90 days earlier had started overheating. He replaced the battery, A/C adapter, memory, and other items in an attempt to resolve the issue, but the problem persisted. Approximately six months later, the user was working on the laptop in question, which he had placed on his thighs when it suddenly burned him. The victim was treated for minor burn injuries.

Malfunctioning Vehicles and Machinery

  • A consumer sustained severe burn injuries in a fuel-fed fire after the ATV he was riding tipped over and trapped him under, spilling gasoline on him. The fuel ignited, causing serious burn injuries on both of his legs. Due to the severity of the burns, the victim’s legs were amputated. The ATV’s gas tank vent tube was found to be defective since it wasn’t designed to prevent fuel spillage in the event of a tip-over accident.

Unsafe Consumer Products

  • A consumer sustained burn injuries to their hands when their travel dual-wattage converter caught on fire shortly after they attached it to the wall outlet in their hotel room. The smoke and fire from the socket forced them to evacuate the hotel room and wait for the circuit breaker to trip. Upon further investigation, the victim discovered that the converters had been recalled due to defects in their design.

Florida Case Law on Defective Product Claims

Florida courts use two main theories to analyze defective product claims: A strict liability theory and a negligence theory.

Under the legal doctrine of strict liability, the defendant’s intent does not matter. Instead, the victim only has to show that:

  1. There is/was a relationship between the defendant and the injury-causing product;
  2. The product had a defect;
  3. The defect made the product unreasonably dangerous when used as intended; and
  4. The defective product was the imminent cause of their injury and damages.

Under the legal doctrine of negligence, the plaintiff needs to demonstrate that:

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care to them;
  2. That duty was breached, making the product unreasonably dangerous when used as intended;
  3. They were injured due to that breach; and
  4. The defective product was the imminent cause of their injury and damages.

For the most part, these two theories are fairly demarcated. However, depending on the specifics of the defective product claim, the two doctrines may sometimes overlap.

Florida Case Law Related to Fire Personal Injuries Caused by Defective Products

Cassisi v. Maytag Co., 396 So. 2d 1140 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1981)

The plaintiff Mrs. Cassisi filed a product liability action against defendant Maytag Co. on the legal doctrines of strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty, for a fire caused by what she alleged to be a defective laundry dryer.

In her suit, the plaintiff alleged that she had purchased the product from McDuff Appliances, the retailer, and had used it for 19 months without incident. On the day in question, Mrs. Cassisi left her home with the dryer running, only to return later and find her house engulfed in flames.

The plaintiff’s expert witness surmised that the fire was due to an electrical short circuit within the dryer, a fault that appeared to be inherent in the product. However, upon cross-examination by the defendant’s attorneys, the expert witness could not negate other possible causes of the fire, such as the possibility that the flames could have originated from a source outside the dryer.

The trial court entered a summary judgment in favor of the defendant on the grounds that the plaintiff had failed to prove that the damages she incurred resulted from a defective product when the fire broke out in her home.

Dissatisfied with the verdict, Mrs. Cassisi appealed the trial court judgment at the Florida District Court of Appeal. The appellate court found that issues of material fact in the case were unresolved, subsequently reversing the earlier decision. The case was remanded to the lower court for further proceedings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if I have suffered a fire personal injury from a defective product?

If you have sustained fire-related injuries due to what you believe was a defective product, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Seek immediate medical care for your injuries.
  2. Document your claim, including medical records, photographs of your injuries and/or damage to property, receipts showing expenses related to your injuries and/or damage, and any other documentation that could be relevant to your case.
  3. Preserve the defective product, the packaging it came in, and the proof of purchase.
  4. Write down all the events leading up to the fire and the events immediately after. Memories tend to get fuzzy over time, so documenting the details of the accident while it’s still fresh in your mind ensures you don’t forget vital details.
  5. Consult an experienced product liability lawyer as soon as possible to explore the available avenues of legal recourse.
  6. Identify the liable parties in your claim. Was the fire a result of a design, manufacturing, or marketing defect?
  7. Compute your damages with help from your attorney.

How long do I have to file a claim for a fire personal injury caused by a defective product in Florida?

The statute of limitation for product liability cases based on strict liability is 4 years. For product liability cases based on negligence, please call us to discuss, as a recent statutory change in the law has caused uncertainty to the limitations period.

What kind of compensation can I receive for a fire personal injury caused by a defective product?

The amount you can recover in damages depends on several factors, such as the extent of your injuries and the defendant’s insurance coverage. With that in mind, you can recover compensation for economic, non-economic, and punitive damages, including the following:

  • Past, present, and future medical expenses related to your injuries
  • Cost of residential care and support if your injuries impair your ability to perform day-to-day household activities
  • Cost of therapy and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Loss of future earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental and emotional anguish
  • Wrongful death

Do I need a lawyer for my fire personal injury claim?

Personal injury cases involving defective products can be extremely complex. Manufacturers, distributors, and retailers spend a lot of money to retain the best attorneys to shift the blame to you and avoid costly payouts.

Your best bet at obtaining a favorable outcome for your claim is to get the best product liability lawyer to represent you. They will create a winning strategy to help you recover a significant injury settlement.

How can I prove that a defective product caused my fire injury?

To prove cause under the legal theory of strict liability in a defective product claim, you must show that:

  1. There is/was a relationship between the defendant and the product that injured them;
  2. The product had a defect;
  3. The defect made the product unreasonably dangerous when used as intended; and
  4. The defective product was the imminent cause of your injury and damages.

To prove cause under the legal doctrine of negligence, you must demonstrate that:

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care to you;
  2. That duty was breached, making the product unreasonably dangerous when used as intended;
  3. You were injured due to the breach; and
  4. The defective product was the imminent cause of your injury and damages.

Do You Have A Question? Call Alan Sackrin Today For a Free Case Evaluation

As a Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert for over 40+ years, Alan Sackrin has extensive experience with product liability lawsuits. He offers a free initial consultation (over the phone or in-person) to answer your questions. When you’re ready to speak with an expert civil trial lawyer about your product liability case, call Alan at 945-458-8655.