Structure fires prompt devastating premises liability cases

Among some of the most tragic cases we handle at Beasley Allen are premises liability cases, especially those involving injury or death from a structure fire.

Recently, our firm was retained in another horrific trailer fire case that occurred in Athens, Georgia. The blaze broke out in the middle of the night on January 27, 2021, in a trailer at the Hallmark Mobile Home Park. The flames devoured the structure within minutes, killing three precious and upstanding members of the Athens community: a grandmother, a mother of two, and an 11-year-old girl.

Beasley Allen principal Parker Miller, an attorney in our Atlanta office, has taken the lead in investigating the case for our clients. Mr. Miller is a nationally recognized lawyer with a wealth of experience representing clients in premises liability cases, including cases in which the property owner/s failed to ensure their property is reasonably safe. All too often such negligence or oversight results in a range of catastrophic injury and death cases.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 150,000 people have died from home fires in the U.S. since 1980. More than four times as many have suffered debilitating burn injuries, smoke inhalation, and other painful fire-related injuries.

There are between 300,000 and 400,000 U.S. home fires every year, resulting in about 7 billion in annual property damages. Tragically, an average of nearly 3,000 people die every year in fires that break out in residences.

At Beasley Allen, we often witness firsthand the catastrophic aftermath of a fire in a property that is not properly maintained or is in poor working order. In addition to the Athens, Georgia case that we are currently litigating, we are representing several other families in premises liability lawsuits involving structure fires, including many in the Mobile, Alabama area. Beasley Allen lawyer Evan Miller, who works in our Mobile office is working on these cases.

Trailer fire cases are a special concern, and they comprise many of the structure fire cases that we handle. These fires burn intensely hot and can quickly engulf a trailer. Several safety issues cause trailer home fires. Some of the most common causes are:

  • Defective, broken, or improperly maintained smoke detectors.
  • Faulty electrical circuits or exposed wiring
  • Short-circuited or defective outlets
  • Natural gas leaks

In many cases, our premises liability lawyers have found that the smoke detectors are nonfunctional, insufficiently placed, or unreliable because of age or poor maintenance. Properly functioning smoke detectors placed in every room of the trailer should give residents plenty of time to get escape the structure before it is consumed by fire. When the owner of a trailer rents the property to others, that owner is often required by law to provide functioning smoke detectors. Failure to adequately protect trailer occupants with smoke alarms can create a major premises liability for the trailer owners.

The tragedy of deadly premises liability cases involving fires is that faulty smoke detectors often make what should have been a survivable fire in an otherwise well-maintained property a deadly catastrophe.

As we alluded to earlier, product defects can also be a catalyst of structure fires. An electronic device may appear to be well made and in perfect working order on the outside, but a poor configuration or other product defect in a device’s circuitry poses a serious threat to the structure’s occupants.

Dangerous defects aren’t just found in smoke detectors but in a wide range of consumer appliances and devices, including:

  • Televisions
  • Toasters
  • Laptop computers
  • Dishwashers
  • Ceiling fans
  • Battery packs and other devices with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

Of course, these are just a few of the products fire investigators may look at in determining the cause of a fire, and those findings will in turn determine if a property owner took proper and adequate precautions to prevent fire on their property.

If you or someone close to you has been injured, either by fire or some other incident, and you believe you may have a premises liability case and/or product defect case, contact our premises liability lawyers for a free, no-obligation evaluation. You can reach Parker Miller in our Atlanta office or Evan Allen in our Mobile office at 800.898.2034 or by email at [email protected] or [email protected]

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