Studies show that there are approximately 51,000 home electrical fires each year. It’s reported that these incidents cause as many as 500 deaths and 1,400 injuries annually, as well as significant property damage. No one should have to worry about whether or not the wiring in their home or business will lead to a fire. Unfortunately, these incidents are not uncommon. In fact, just last year one of our partners here at the Walkup Law Firm obtained a jury verdict in excess of $3 million for the wrongful death of a woman who was killed in her apartment when a faulty electrical outlet triggered a tragic fire.
How Faulty Wiring Causes a Fire
Faulty wiring inside a residential or commercial building is the third leading cause of fires in the United States and California (behind cooking fires and the use of heating equipment). According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments responded to an estimated 45,000 fires involving electrical failure or malfunction each year between 2012 and 2016. In addition to the tragic loss of life and injuries that occur in these incidents, faulty electrical wiring causes approximately $1.3 billion in property damage each year.
Some of the most common causes of fires caused by faulty wiring include:
- Faulty installation. Homeowners, contractors, or sub-contractors improperly install wiring during the construction or remodeling phase of a home or business.
- Defective parts. Circuit breakers, switches, plugs, and other components fail – typically because the manufacturer of the electrical components are wiring used in a home or business are flawed or defective.
- Overloading. Rather than keep wiring and circuits up to date and robust enough to handle the demands made by modern living, building owners, landlords, and rental property managers permit electrical systems and circuits to become overloaded. Fires originating with circuit overloads are most common during the winter months when more people spend time indoors.
- Overheating. In some cases, an electrical outlet or wiring can overheat and lead to a fire breaking between walls or in partitions.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Faulty Wiring Fire?
In the aftermath of a fire caused by faulty wiring, there may be multiple parties that have potential legal liability.
- Contractors or sub-contractors. The contractors and sub-contractors who work on the initial construction of a home or business, or those who provide remodeling services when a new addition is built or a kitchen or bathroom is upgraded, are liable if they do not follow all appropriate local and state codes, ordinances , regulations, and fire prevention codes such as the NFPA.
- Landlords, Building Owners and Property Managers. People and businesses responsible for renting, selling or managing dwellings or business premises are responsible for the harm caused by their failure to properly inspect, maintain and manage the electrical system in any rented property. They have a duty to make regular safety inspections and upgrades when indicated
- Companies or manufacturers of component parts. If a company or manufacturer supplies a faulty or defective switch, plug, outlet, electrical fixture wiring or other electrical components under both negligence and product liability law they can be held liable for any damages and injuries caused by fire.
- Repair and maintenance technicians. Electricians who service a home or business have a responsibility to be adequately trained, experienced and qualified to do the job. If an electrician performs inadequate repairs, they are liable if a fire causes injuries or damages.
What Kind of Compensation Is Available for Victims?
If you or somebody you love has been injured or sustained property damage due to faulty electrical wiring, switches, outlets, fixtures, or appliances you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your losses. Permissible economic and non-economic elements of recovery include the following:
- The cost of medical expenses related to the incident
- Future costs for care treatment and surgery
- Past and future lost wages and benefits if you cannot work
- The cost of replacing or restoring your home, apartment or business property
- The cost of replacing personal property that is lost in a fire
- Money to compensate for emotional distress, physical , worry, anxiety and disfigurement
- Loss of personal enjoyment damages
- Possible punitive damages against grossly negligent companies, manufacturers, or installers
At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, our qualified and experienced San Francisco personal injury lawyers always starts with a comprehensive event thorough investigation into any electrical fire case. We use experts when necessary and rely upon our experience in all cases. We understand how product liability and premises liability laws apply to electrical dwelling fires and business property fires, and we have the resources to ensure you are treated fairly. Contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling (415) 889-2919.