Can You Sue Your Landlord for Burns Suffered in an Apartment Fire?

November 12, 2020

If you or a loved one is suffering from burns after a fire, you may wonder, can you sue your landlord for burns suffered in an apartment fire? Depending on the cause of the fire, you can. If there’s good evidence your landlord was negligent and it caused your injuries, you may have a successful case.

Wapner Newman has helped accident victims for decades, including those injured by mistakes by landlords. Fires are frightening events. They can cause burn injuries that can leave you severely scarred physically and mentally. These burns could leave you disabled, and they can be fatal.

When Should I Sue a Landlord if I’m Burned in an Apartment Fire?

If a tenant is injured in a fire caused in some way by the landlord, most cases are based on negligence. There are a series of steps involved with proving negligence. They can result in your receiving compensation from your landlord for your burns suffered in an apartment fire. You must prove:

  • The landlord owed you an obligation to do, or not do, something. This could be because of state statute, city ordinance, your lease, or law that’s been created by the courts over the years.
  • The landlord didn’t live up to that obligation. The building wasn’t up to safety codes, the owner knew of a dangerous condition but didn’t fix it, or he failed to maintain smoke detectors.
  • The landlord’s acts or failure to act was the cause of the fire and your burns.
  • You suffered damages (the harm done, measured in dollars) as a result.
  • The landlord must, under Pennsylvania law, pay you for those damages.

In Pennsylvania, landlords owe a duty to protect tenants from injuries. If they negligently fail to keep a rental property in a safe condition, they can be held responsible for a fire. That responsibility begins even before you rent the apartment. A landlord can be liable for failing to fix a dangerous condition that existed before or after you moved in. This includes a condition that violates a statute or regulation. Normally an injured tenant doesn’t need to tell the landlord about the dangerous condition to have a successful negligence claim, but it would make the case easier to prove.

Do Your Part to Prevent an Apartment Fire

If you think there are dangerous conditions in your apartment or building, tell your landlord or the building manager. This includes:

  • Light switches and electrical outlets that are warm, loose, or lack covers
  • Your heating system doesn’t work well. It’s not hot enough or is putting out too much heat
  • Lights flicker
  • Circuit breakers frequently trip
  • You see bare or exposed wires
  • You smell something burning or what might be shorting wires
  • You smell natural gas
  • If you think another tenant is doing something that might be a fire hazard.

Pennsylvania has a modified comparative negligence rule. It states that if you make mistakes that lead to the accident, that won’t prevent your claim as long as you’re no more than half the cause. To have a successful case, the landlord must be more than half at fault. If you can prove that and win your case, what you would collect would be reduced by your share of the accident’s cause.

In the case of an apartment fire, that means you need to keep yourself as safe as you can.

  • If your landlord doesn’t allow it, don’t smoke, use candles or space heaters in your apartment.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • Don’t walk away from anything cooking on a stove, especially if you’re frying with a lot of oil.
  • If you’re finished baking, turn off the oven.
  • Don’t use cheap chargers or cables for electronic devices.
  • Unplug them after they’re recharged.
  • Have a fire extinguisher in your apartment.
  • Don’t block exits. If there’s a fire, you need to be able to get out as quickly as possible.

Burns are Painful and Could Affect You the Rest of Your Life

Burns, according to the Mayo Clinic, are tissue damage caused by heat, too much sun, chemicals or electrical contact. They can be minor or life-threatening emergencies. Treatment depends on where the burn is located and its severity. Deep or large burns should get immediate medical attention. If they are severe enough, you may need treatment at a specialized burn center and months of follow-up care.

You may be much more impacted by side effects than the burn itself. Deep or widespread burn complications include:

  • Infections, which may cause a bloodstream infection (sepsis)
  • Fluid loss and low blood volume
  • Dangerously low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Breathing problems due to smoke inhalation
  • Ridged areas of skin caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue (keloids)
  • Bone and joint problems when scar tissue shortens and tightens your skin, muscles, or tendons (contractures).

Take the Next Step. Contact Wapner Newman.

A serious burn caused in a fire can be a life-changing event. Why should I sue the landlord if I’m burned in an apartment fire? You may have a pile of medical bills, lose your job because of time off you need for treatment and recovery, and be in chronic physical and emotional pain.

Can you sue your landlord for burns suffered in an apartment fire? Wapner Newman can hold those who caused the fire accountable, including your landlord, if the facts show the landlord was negligent.

If you or a loved one suffered a burn injury due to an apartment fire in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, please contact Wapner Newman at (215) 569-0900 today to schedule your initial consultation with a burn injury attorney. We can talk about the law, what caused the fire, your injuries, and your best options to get the most compensation possible.