At least three smoke detectors in the Noyac home where two sisters died in an early morning fire on Aug. 3 had no power to them, according to a news report in 27east.com. Revelations about the dangerous conditions in that the house were detailed in 29 code violations filed against the property’s owners in Southampton Town Justice Court recently.
According to court documents, one of the nonworking smoke detectors was in one bedroom on the second floor and there was no smoke detector in the common hallway between the two upstairs bedrooms as required by state safety codes. Additionally, an electrical outlet to the outdoor kitchen, where investigators have said the fire appeared to have originated, had been improperly installed directly into the home’s wood siding without the protection of a metal electrical box.
Lack of Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Officials said this created a distinct fire hazard. Affidavits from investigators stated that the power supply to the smoke alarm in the bedroom of the second floor had been disconnected and the smoke detector had no backup battery. Smoke detectors in the hallway outside the first-floor master bedroom and in the garage were inoperable and had no battery backups.
Sisters Lindsay Wiener, 19, and Jillian Wiener, 21, were killed in the fire as they slept in the home. Their brother, Zachary, escaped the fire by jumping out of a second-floor window. Their parents, Lewis and Alisa Weiner, who were sleeping in the first-floor bedroom told officials they were awakened by the sound of breaking glass, and were able to get out. None of the family or the firefighters who arrived on the scene, said they heard the smoke alarms sounding.
The homeowners were charged with 29 violations of the town code and New York State building, property maintenance and fire safety codes. Violations included inoperable smoke detectors, lack of carbon monoxide detectors anywhere in the house and improper electrical work. Officials particularly pointed to the lack of a smoke detector in the common space outside the upstairs bedrooms.
They said because smoke and heat go up, having that alarm in particular could have warned residents and helped them get to safety in a timely manner. The fire is still under investigation by the Southampton Town fire marshal’s office. Officials believe the fatal fire originated in the outdoor kitchen and a rear wooden deck of the house. The Weiners were visiting from Maryland and told investigators they had rented the home for eight days.
Injuries and Liability Issues
Fires have the potential to result in major injuries such as burns and smoke inhalation injuries. Burn injuries are usually categorized from first to third degree depending on the seriousness of the burns. Burn injuries typically require hospitalization as well as lengthy and costly treatment. In many cases, victims suffer disfiguring scars and permanent injuries. In most cases however, smoke inhalation is the main cause of death for victims of residential fires.
Smoke inhalation injury refers to injury due to inhalation and/or exposure to hot gaseous products of combustion. This can cause serious respiratory complications. Smoke inhalation injuries are often more dangerous than burn injuries. All fire-related injuries, whether they are burns or smoke inhalation injuries, require prompt medical attention, treatment and care.
Property owners and managers have a legal obligation to ensure that their buildings have smoke and fire alarms that are in good working condition. The property owner/manager can be held accountable for fire-related injuries, particularly if negligence (carelessness) played a part. Plaintiffs (the injured party) in such cases can file what is known as a premises liability claim, seeking damages.
Some examples of property owner/manager negligence (carelessness) include failing to maintain the property properly, not making necessary repairs and failing to install or maintain fire and smoke alarms in the building. In some cases, where the fire was caused by the utility company’s negligence (carelessness), they may also be held liable. If the fire was caused by a malfunctioning smoke detector or sprinkler system, the manufacturers of those defective products may be held accountable as well.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options, and also fight hard to recover just compensation for you. Our firm obtained a $985,000 settlement out of a $1 million insurance policy for two people who suffered smoke inhalation injuries because the homeowner did not have smoke detectors installed and the $15,000 that was left on the insurance policy was for a person that we did not represent. One of our clients recovered $2,500,000 due to a faulty space heater. Also, one of our clients obtained a verdict for $43,940,000 and another of our clients got a verdict for $23,500,000, both in medical malpractice cases.
Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury, lead poisoning and medical malpractice cases in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com