Apartment fires are a huge problem in Queens, with dozens of potential causes for injury. With over 444,663 rental units in the borough, fires in shared apartment buildings can be disastrous. Of those apartments, 109,238 are in buildings with over 50 units. Living so close to others can mean that one person’s careless mistakes can spread to their neighbors, causing destruction and injury along the way.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an apartment fire, talk to an experienced Queens personal injury attorney like those at Sullivan and Galleshaw. Our lawyers help people with catastrophic injuries and burn injuries get the compensation they need.
Holding Landlords Responsible
Landlords are responsible for the upkeep to any apartment building or multi-family building. When they fail to do regular maintenance, they can leave dangerous problems for tenants and guests. Some of these problems may even be enough to create fire hazards or allow fires to become even more dangerous. Keep reading about how to sue a rental landlord for injuries in Queens.
Building materials are a huge part of housing codes. Buildings are often required to have certain types of insulation and certain wall construction to prevent fires from spreading from unit to unit. If your landlord was careless, or never corrected code violations, your building may be extremely vulnerable to fire damage.
Landlords are also often responsible for maintaining fire alarm and fire suppression systems. That means smoke detectors, building alarms, fire alarm switches, and built-in sprinkler systems are all the responsibility of the landlord. Landlords often make sure each apartment unit has a working fire extinguisher somewhere in the unit (like under the sink or in a closet). Keeping these systems and devices in working order and testing them periodically is often a legal requirement, aimed at keeping people safe.
Additionally, landlords are often required to have evacuation procedures planned to help people leave buildings safely. This means ensuring that stairways are safe and cleared of debris, that fire doors open and close correctly for emergencies, and that outdoor fire escapes are properly maintained.
Many of the injuries sustained in fires are not burns, but from people getting hurt avoiding fires. In an attempt to escape fire, people may suffer twisted ankles and broken bones from falling down stairs. In worse cases, people may be trampled by neighbors or fall and suffer serious brain injuries. In even worse cases, improperly maintained stairs and fire escapes may lead people to jump out of the building to avoid the flames. In any fire, though, burns and smoke inhalation are still common injuries.
Holding Neighbors Responsible
Most fires are caused by accident, with arson being a rare occurrence. Still, in 2016 alone, the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) responded to 466 building fires (and another 436 non-building fires). This resulted in 150,033 ambulance runs for life threatening medical emergencies, according to official FDNY statistics.
Because apartment buildings usually have hundreds or thousands of people living within the same structure, fires can be devastating. Even if the fire starts on the top floor, it can spread throughout a building. Just this past month, on April 11, 2017, over 200 firefighters responded to an apartment fire on the top floor of a Queens apartment building at 94th St. and 56th Ave. 112 apartment units suffered extensive damage, even though the fire began on the top floor.
Many careless mistakes can cause severe fires. Candles, cooking accidents, defective products, and other accidents can spark fires capable of tearing through an apartment building. When your neighbor is responsible for allowing a fire to start, that neighbor can be held liable for your injuries.
To prove that someone was responsible for your injuries, you need to prove four elements:
- They owed you a duty (i.e. the duty to prevent fires from starting in their apartment);
- They breached that duty (i.e. by allowing a fire to start);
- The breach caused your injury; and
- You have an injury the court can compensate.
This fire was allegedly caused by a reckless contractor, whose work on the roof started the blaze. Fire investigators and police are still investigating, but a man was charged with causing the fire. This kind of careless action is a perfect example of how someone’s negligence can cause huge damage and injury.
Many times, proving the causation element is hard in fire cases. In order for something to have been the legal cause of an injury, it needs to have literally caused the injury, as well as being the “proximate cause.” While a fire may literally cause an injury, if the starting of the fire is too far removed from the injury, or the fire jumps from building to building before reaching yours, the court may cut-off liability.
Regardless, taking your apartment fire injury case to an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand the strength of your case and how much your injuries may be worth.
Queens Apartment Fire Injury Attorneys
The personal injury lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw work to help injured victims get the compensation they need to get their lives back on track. If you or a loved one has been injured in an apartment fire, or you’ve lost a loved one to an apartment fire, call today. Our lawyers can help fight insurance companies and take the responsible parties to court to get you compensation. Call today for a free consultation at 718-843-0300.