People who live in an apartment sign a lease that indicates what is required of them as tenants and of the property owner as landlord. Both are subject to legal obligations, regardless of whether they are included in the lease. Among the landlord’s obligations is to properly maintain the building and appliances that are potentially dangerous, including boilers, water heaters, and furnaces. When failure to properly maintain premises results in a fire, the landlord can be legally liable for any resulting injuries.
Raleigh Fire Department responded to a fire call around 11:45 p.m. on March 23 from apartments at 611 Peyton Street in south Raleigh. The late Sunday night fire saw tenants leaping for safety. At least 46 people were displaced, of which 17 were injured, including a woman and a couple that jumped from the third floor to escape the flames. There was no immediate report on the severity of the injuries.
Firefighters were able to put out the fire in about 20 minutes. The Red Cross put the displaced tenants in a nearby hotel until Wednesday. Authorities said at least 12 apartment units were damaged. Furthermore, reports said that the apartment complex had been previously cited for violations when the owner failed to show proof of regular servicing of smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. The building has smoke alarms, but no records showed they were maintained on a regular basis.
Reports said authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire. If it turns out that the fire occurred due to faulty equipment or unsafe conditions for which the apartment owner was responsible but neglected to address, then said property owner can be held legally liable for resulting injuries under the theory of premises liability.
If the owner’s failure to provide fully-working smoke alarms or detectors contributed to the residents’ injuries, then he or she can be held liable. If the owner failed to provide adequate security such as poor lighting or a faulty door that allowed a third party to start the fire, this owner may also be held liable.
Determining property owner’s liability for a fire can be difficult. In many cases, residents have to show that the owner knew or should have known that a dangerous condition existed on the property but failed to do something about the hazards. There are circumstances when an owner can be held accountable even if he or she was not aware of the dangers. For example, if the owner failed to regularly check the electrical wiring that caused a fire, he or she can be held liable even if there was no previous indication that faulty wiring could cause a fire. Getting the help of an experienced Raleigh personal injury attorney will help victims obtain compensation for injuries and losses.