The United States has one of the highest fire injury and death rates in the industrialized world. Burn injuries are second only to motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. On average in the United States someone dies in a fire nearly every 2 hours, and someone is injured every 23 minutes.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Fire Loss
Q: What are some common causes of fires in the home?
A: According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), lighted smoking materials, especially cigarettes, are a common cause of fatal fires in the home, causing more than 500 deaths each year. The NFPA lists cooking equipment as another leading cause of home fires and the fourth leading cause of home-fire deaths. Most cooking equipment fires involve a range or cook-top and happen when people leave what they are cooking unattended. Heating equipment is the second leading cause of home fires and third leading cause of fire deaths in the home according to the NFPA.
Q: What are some things I can do to prevent fires at home?
A: There are several safety tips to remember in order to lessen the risk of fires at home. These include: never leaving cooking food unattended; keeping space heaters away from any flammable materials; inspecting electrical cords and wiring regularly; blowing out candles when you leave a room or go to sleep; keeping matches and lighters away from children; and installing smoke alarms and testing them regularly.
Fire Loss - An Overview
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 1,345,500 fires were reported in the United States in 2015. These fires resulted in 3,280 civilian deaths, 15,700 civilian injuries and over $14.3 billion in property damage. Burn victims and their families endure extreme physical and emotional trauma at the time of injury, during treatment and after recovery. Even if a fire does not cause any injuries, the cost of property damage can be tremendous. Any personal injury or wrongful death claims for burns and deaths caused by fire or smoke inhalation or claims for property damage present complex legal and factual questions. An experienced attorney at Steelman, Gaunt & Horsefield, Attorneys at Law in Rolla, MO, can help you sort through these issues.
Legal Theories Used in Fire Loss Cases
When a fire destroys property or causes severe personal injuries, the damaged party will likely want to bring an action to recover compensation for his or her losses or injuries. The two main legal theories available to plaintiffs in this situation are negligence and product liability.
Liability for Fire Damage
A fire is a catastrophe for the owner of a building. Even if no one is injured, and even if the building was not destroyed, the damage can be very expensive and time-consuming to repair. Finding the person or company responsible for the fire and seeing that they are held responsible is an important step in recouping your damages and minimizing your financial loss. Determining the party liable for fire damages is, however, a difficult matter.
In a case for damages and injuries caused by a fire, it will be necessary for the plaintiff to establish the cause of the fire. For example, if the plaintiff alleges that defective wiring caused the fire, he will need to establish this and show that other possible causes can be eliminated. This can be a very difficult task because fires destroy evidence. A fire investigator will likely serve as a key witness for the plaintiff.
Burn Injuries and Treatment
Burns caused by flames and fire are classified as thermal burns. The severity of a burn injury depends on a number of factors including the percentage of the body that has been burned, the age of the burn victim and the burn victim's medical history. The following article provides a general overview of the degrees of burns and stages of treatment.
Fire Loss Resource Links
National Fire Protection Association®
The National Fire Protection Association's mission is to reduce fire's impact on quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training and education. This Web site has fire statistics and information.
Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors
Popular resource site for burn survivors, their friends and loved ones, firefighters, medical professionals and anyone else who has been affected by the devastation of burn injuries.
American Burn Association Educational Resource Center
This is a comprehensive information and service site for burn survivors and treatment providers.
This service of the United States National Library of Medicine and United States National Institutes of Health provides a comprehensive links menu.
Regions Burn Center
A site devoted to helping children who have been burned or who have family members that have been burned.