Apartment Fire Injury Lawyers in TexasLast updated on: March 8, 2021
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An apartment fire is not only devastating in the sense that it will render you without a home, but also because it may destroy the material possessions that you have acquired over the span of many years. Of course, fires can also cause physical injuries that can be temporary or permanent.
If you or your loved one has been injured in an apartment fire, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our Texas apartment fire injury lawyers.
Fire Safety Tips
1. Make Sure You have Alarms Installed
It is a general piece of advice that you should check your smoke alarm every six months. A smoke alarm is essential in an apartment as knowing whether a fire is occurring right when it starts can mean the difference between life and death.
2. Make Sure You Have an Escape Plan
If you are trying to figure out how to escape during an actual fire, it is too late. You should know the layout of your apartment so that you know which exit to take. If you can install an escape ladder, you should consider investing in one.
3. Never Leave the Kitchen Unattended When in Use
Many fires start in the kitchen because the stove was left on or because of some cooking disaster. Therefore, you should always have a fire extinguisher nearby and you should never leave the kitchen unattended. A small fire can turn into a blaze in a matter of seconds. If you can stay in the kitchen when a fire starts, you are more likely to extinguish it quickly than if you return after several minutes.
4. Check Your Electrical Cords
Apartment fires can also start because of a faulty electrical cord. You should make sure that you check your electrical cords to see if the wire is exposed. Never have electrical cords run under a rug. If you are able to, buy surge protectors to plug in your electrical appliances.
Read More: III Fire Safety Tips
Types of Burn Injuries
There are four degrees of burn injuries.
First-Degree: Superficial burns that can heal within a few days
Second-Degree: Burns that will heal but may take weeks to a month. Infections are possible.
Third-Degree: Burns in which infection rates are high and the chance of natural healing is impossible.
Fourth-Degree: Burns in which extensive surgery or amputation may be needed. Often life-threatening.
Fires do not necessarily always kill individuals because they catch on fire. Often, it is because victims inhale too much smoke. For instance, too much smoke in the respiratory system can cause seizures or coma.
What to Do in an Apartment Fire
1. Do Not Panic
Though easier said than done, having a clear head during a fire will increase your chances of survival.
2. Be Wary of the Smoke
Smoke cannot only be irritating, but it can also suffocate you to death. Also remember that smoke rises. As a result, more smoke-free air is at the ground level than at higher levels. That is why when there is a lot of smoke, you should crawl instead of moving in an upright position.
3. Door Safety
When you approach a door, do not immediately grab the knob. You should make sure there is not a fire on the other side. Feel the doorknob lightly with the back of your hand. If it is hot, it means that there is a fire right outside.
4. Do Not Waste Time Collecting Personal Belongings
Though you should probably collect your wallet and keys, even these should be left behind depending on how severe the fire is in your apartment. Remember that material possessions may be acquired again. However, your life cannot be.
5. Stairwell Safety
The stairway may be one way to exit your apartment during an apartment fire if it has not been affected by the fire. Never use an elevator during a fire since it may stall due to heat or due to power loss. Check to see if there is smoke in the stairwell before deciding to use it. Also, do not run down the stairwell. You should try and walk down as calmly as possible while holding the handrail.
Whom Can I Hold Legally Responsible for the Fire?
You may hold several individuals responsible for an apartment fire. For instance, you could sue the owner of the apartment if the apartment owner did not comply with fire safety codes that caused the fire in the first place. You could also sue a manufacturer of the product that caused the fire. For example, if you bought a consumer good that was defective and caught on fire, you may have the ability to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the consumer good. Maintenance companies can be sued as well. If an electrician did not properly configure the wires or if the gas company did not check for ruptures or faulty pipes, you may sue these companies as well.
Read More: Premises Liability Lawyers
How to Prepare to Deal with Your Insurance Company
If you have renters’ insurance, you will likely first start with your insurance company. Be aware that insurance companies will often scrutinize your claim for compensation. Below are some tips you should follow to try and maximize the compensation you receive from your insurance company.
1. File a Claim Immediately
Renters’ insurance policies generally require that policyholders report damages as soon as possible after the damage occurs. You can often do this by simply emailing or calling your insurance company’s agent. The agent will likely ask you to submit a “proof of loss claim” in which you will have to list the expenses and losses you incurred. The longer you wait to do this, the longer it may take for you to receive compensation.
Read More: How to Negotiate with Insurance Companies
2. Mitigate Your Damages
In general, renters’ insurance requires policyholders to mitigate damages once fire damage has occurred. This means that you will need to make effort to prevent further fire damage from occurring once the fire has simmered down. For instance, once fire damage has occurred to your apartment, there may still be smoking debris that could reignite the fire. In such situations, you will want to contact the fire department so that flare-ups do not occur. If you are worried that because the fire has damaged your apartment door and that vandalism can occur, you will need to find a way to block the entrance to your apartment. This can mean boarding up the door or installing chains onto the door.
3. Be Organized
When you first call the insurance company to file a claim, it will not be the last time you speak with them. You will likely have to call your claims agent over and over. To better track what is going on with your claim, you will want to keep a binder or folder that you can keep a record of every conversation you had with a claims agent. You should also store in your binder or folder the expenses you have incurred because of the fire.
4. Make a List of Your Living Expenses After the Fire
Often, your policy will include what is called a “loss of use” clause. The insurance company will be responsible for the extra living expenses you have incurred because of the fire. For instance, if your rent was $600 per month but because of the fire, you are now spending $700 per month in temporary housing, the insurance company may reimburse you for the extra $100 you are paying.
If you decide to live with friends or family and they do not charge you, you may still be able to ask the insurance company to reimburse them.
5. Do Not Accept a Payment That States the Claim is Now Closed
Insurance companies are known to use devious tactics to avoid paying fair compensation. Because after an apartment fire, damages can accumulate, insurance companies will want to close a claim as quickly as possible to avoid giving out a greater payout. One way an insurance company will do this is by sending a letter with a check stating that once the check is cashed, the insurance company is no longer obligated to pay for additional losses. If you end up cashing this check, you may lose your opportunity to ask for more compensation. Therefore, do not cash the check. Instead, tell the insurance company that you are not ready for your claim to be closed at this time.
6. Do Not Stop Paying Your Premiums
Though you may think it may not make sense to pay your premiums once your apartment has already burned down, do not forget that your renters’ policy may cover other damages while you are at your temporary residence. If you fail to pay your premiums, you may not receive compensation for new damages that result from the apartment fire.
CONTACT A LAWYER
The experienced Texas attorneys at Zinda Law Group may be able to help you if you have been injured in an apartment fire. After an accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about affording legal representation, which is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.
Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.