- posted: Jul. 25, 2023
- Personal Injury
Fires can have a catastrophic impact on individuals and their families, causing severe bodily harm as well as damage to homes and other personal belongings. According to the Firefighters Association of the State of New York, New York is the leading state in fire-related deaths, with at least 45 civilian lives lost as of March 2023. From May 2020 to May 2021, there were 24,259 structural fires recorded, with nearly a quarter of all burn victims being directly affected by a fire. The most common type of fire to occur in New York are residential fires, which are often caused by smoking, cooking fires, or faulty electrical items. New York specifically is susceptible to structural fires due to its aging infrastructure and building materials, in addition to its high population density.
Fires cause severe damage in a limited amount of time; it takes only 5 minutes for a fire to engulf an entire room. On average, a house fire can reach up to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. Even rooms that are not on fire can reach about 300 degrees, which can cause severe injury and even death.
When someone is burned by a fire, their body absorbs thermal energy, first transferring the heat to their skin, which causes virtually instantaneous damage. The severity of the burns is divided into three categories: First-degree burns only affect the outermost layer of skin, causing redness, pain, and swelling; second-degree burns affect the outer and middle layers of skin, causing intense pain, blistering, swelling, and redness; and third-degree burns are the most severe, affecting all three layers of the skin, causing charring of the skin as well as severe nerve damage and the loss of feeling on the body where the fire had affected. As the healing process progresses, burn injuries can result in extensive scarring. This scarring can cause mobility issues and impede function in the afflicted areas.
In a fire, most victims suffer from smoke inhalation. Smoke from fires can contain toxic and harmful chemicals. These toxins are then absorbed into the bloodstream as victims try to breathe. This can cause potential organ damage as well as severe damage to the lungs and airways. The damage to the respiratory system causes difficulty breathing, inflammation, and even chemical burns. Oxygen deprivation is a common symptom of smoke inhalation and can cause damaging effects on all major organs, such as the brain, heart, and lungs. Victims often suffer from dizziness, confusion, loss of consciousness, and, in some cases, cardiac arrest.
Additionally, if you have experienced a fire in your building in New York, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. However, winning a building fire lawsuit can be challenging, and it is important to take certain steps to help strengthen your case. It is imperative that you document the damage from the fire as quickly as possible. Take as many pictures and videos as possible to showcase where the fire was specifically damaged as well as the magnitude of the damage. Obtaining statements and contact information from witnesses is also important. Also, you can create an itemized list of all material possessions lost in the fire. This list makes it easier to quantify the damage caused and assists your attorney in assessing how much compensation is needed to make you whole.
In New York, you can file a lawsuit for a residential fire using different legal theories. A negligence lawsuit is one option in which you would need to prove that someone was responsible for the fire, whether intentionally or via negligence. For example, if a contractor negligently installed improper wiring that caused the fire, you may be entitled to sue the contractor. Another option would be a product liability lawsuit, in which you may be able to sue a product manufacturer or seller if you can prove that the fire was caused by a faulty product, such as a malfunctioning appliance or electrical device. It is crucial to note that New York has statutes of limitations that apply a time limit for filing a lawsuit in the state. For a negligence lawsuit, you typically have three years from the date of the fire to file a claim. While with a product liability lawsuit, you generally have three years from the date of the injury or damage caused by the product to file a suit.
At Licatesi Law Group, we understand the devastating impact that burn injuries have on victims and their families. We are devoted to providing expert legal assistance to victims who have sustained burn injuries due to the negligence or wrongful actions of others. Please contact us at (516) 227-2662 for a free consultation today.