Electrical fires are often worse than regular fires because they can happen out of nowhere. With a normal fire, there are often obvious warning signs that make the fire easily preventable. However, electrical fires often occur as a result of faulty wiring, which can be hard to detect, meaning they can happen at any time through no fault of your own.
Though faulty wiring can happen for various reasons, it is often due to negligence on the part of the landlord or property owner. If you are the victim of an electrical fire, you have a right to take legal action against your landlord if their lack of care and attention resulted in the faulty wiring that caused the fire.
Property damage, loss of personal property, loss of pets and loved ones, or your own injuries can be heavy burdens to deal with after an electrical fire. You deserve compensation for these damages to help you recover and move on as best as possible. Filing a lawsuit can feel intimidating, but with the help of an experienced Indianapolis personal injury attorney, you can ensure your landlord is held accountable so you can get the compensation you deserve.
Though landlords and property owners are often the parties responsible for electrical fires, there are various reasons these types of incidents can occur. Before pursuing legal action, it’s important to understand all of the possible causes of the fire so you can build a strong case should you decide to sue.
Common causes of electrical fires include:
- Faulty wiring or poorly maintained wiring
- Old or faulty light fixtures
- Old or faulty appliances
- Poorly maintained or ungrounded electrical outlets
- Faulty smoke alarms or lack of smoke detectors
- Defective or poorly maintained light switches
- Improper installation of electrical devices
- Electrical building code violations
- Overloaded electrical systems
- Rodents chewing through wiring
Though it is ultimately your landlord’s responsibility to properly maintain your rental unit, there are signs you can look out for yourself to prevent an electrical fire from occurring. If you notice any of the issues below, contact your landlord immediately. If you cannot get a hold of your landlord and it is an emergency, contact the fire department.
The following issues could all be signs of faulty or old wiring:
- Blown fuses
- Outlets not working properly
- Flickering lights
- Outlets that shock you
- Burning smells
- Hot fixtures, outlets, or walls
- Blackening around outlets and switches
Indiana renters have a right to a “habitable” environment. This means a safe, clean, and properly maintained place to live that is up to code. Your landlord is responsible for ensuring that your rental unit is properly maintained and in compliance with local housing codes. If you suspect an issue, you must give your landlord notice and a reasonable amount of time to fix it. If they ignore the issue or it is not getting taken care of in a timely manner, you can contact your local board of health and code enforcement to report the issue.
You also have a right to file a lawsuit against your landlord or the property owner if the issue is not dealt with in a reasonable amount of time. Through a lawsuit, you can get compensation for damages, orders to have your unit repaired, and coverage of attorney fees. If a fire occurs and then you sue, the damages you recover can help cover your injuries or losses.
Landlords owe their tenants a duty of care by maintaining the property and ensuring that your rental unit is habitable and livable—which includes maintaining the wiring and other electrical issues. If you file a lawsuit, you must show that your landlord breached their duty of care by failing to address the electrical issue. You must then further prove that their negligence and lack of action resulted in a fire or a hazard that led or could lead to you being harmed.
Proving fault or breach of duty is not always easy. You will need solid proof that your landlord was responsible for the faulty wiring that caused the fire or that could cause a fire. This typically requires the help of an attorney who knows exactly what can be used as evidence to support your claim. Without an attorney, you may not recover the full amount of damages you are owed and deserve.
If you or a loved one are the victims of an electrical fire in a rental unit, the experts at Poynter & Bucheri can help. The losses and injuries suffered after an electrical fire can be devastating, but our dedicated team can offer you guidance and help you get the compensation you deserve.
Don’t hesitate to reach out — one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.