Premises Liability and Fires in New York City: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Nearly 8.5 million New Yorkers live in apartments they rent. If you live in an apartment building in New York City — whether it’s the public housing units (the projects) or those owned by private landlords (building owners) — please remember that property owners and managers are responsible to maintain the building properly and keep conditions safe for not just tenants but also visitors to the building.

Duty of Care

Property owners and managers not only have first-hand knowledge about the condition of their property and the maintenance that is required, but also have the resources to make sure the property is maintained well and will not prove a hazard for those on the premises. Above all, property owners and managers have a duty of care to their tenants to keep them safe from incidents that may occur, including fires.

Unfortunately, we see a number of cases in New York where deadly fires occur because landlords (building owners) and/or their agents fail to properly maintain or manage their properties. For example, in the most recent fire in the Bronx that left 17 people dead and 15 others critically injured, officials are looking into whether the smoke detectors in the building were functioning properly at the time of the fire and also whether the property owner had failed to repair a self-closing door that remained open and allowed the fire to spread through the building, causing smoke inhalation injuries to the victims, many of whom were children.

Premises Liability FAQs

In this section, we address some of the most frequently asked questions about premises liability and fires in New York City:

What can an experienced premises liability lawyer do for you?

An experienced lawyer who has handled premises liability cases will be able to compile all the required evidence in your case. They will help you contact the appropriate fire department to get the incident report. They will retain experts who can help prove your case and injuries. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf and demand a fair settlement. Your attorney will also be able to calculate the total damages and losses in your case so you can seek maximum compensation for your losses.

How much money can I recover if I have been injured in a fire?

The damages you can recover depends on your particular situation and the specific details of your case. Fires cause significant devastation. Some victims suffer property damage. Some victims may lose everything they own in fires. Victims also tend to suffer major burn injuries, severe smoke inhalation injuries that damage their lungs, and broken bones as a result of jumping from buildings to escape the fire and smoke. In addition to physical injuries, victims suffer emotional trauma and even mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As the victim of a fire that was the result of someone else’s negligence (carelessness), you can recover monetary damages for the quantifiable losses you suffered as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering and/or agony caused by scarring and disfigurement. Our New York City personal injury lawyers can help you evaluate and factor all your losses.

What are the common causes of apartment fires in New York City?

A number of apartment building fires in New York City are caused by negligence (carelessness). In most cases, property owners and/or property managers fail to properly maintain their properties. In a number of cases, apartment fires are caused by:

• Lack of smoke detectors or fire alarms.
• Smoke detectors or fire alarms that don’t work properly.
• Dangerous or malfunctioning appliances such as space heaters.
• Problems with utilities such as gas lines or electrical wiring.
• Violations of building or fire code.

How do I prove liability after a fire?

Premises liability law allows tenants and guests to sue property owners, managers and other parties for failing to maintain the property in a safe manner. In order to prove liability, the plaintiff (the injured party) must show evidence that the owner and/or manager owed them a duty of care, that they breached that duty and that the violation of duty caused the fire, which in turn led to his or her injuries and damages.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a fire or explosion, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys with 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. For 50 years, our skilled attorneys have established a proven track record of assisting injured victims. One of our clients — a hot water burn victim — secured $750,000 in damages from the property owner and manager.

Our firm also obtained a $985,000 settlement out of a $1 million 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. Another client 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 and/or 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

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