Chicago Apartment Fire Safety: Who Can Be Held Accountable?

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After the chaos of an apartment building fire has subsided and the firefighters from the Chicago Fire Department have put out the flames, you may be left with serious injuries including smoke inhalation and burns. You might have lost all your belonging, or in an even greater tragedy, you may have lost a family member.

If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in an apartment fire in Chicago, it is important to understand who can be held accountable. The answer will depend on the specific circumstances of your case.

In some cases, the building owner may be held liable if the fire started because of negligence on their part. For example, if the building owner knew there were hazardous and flammable materials present blocking fire exit access or endangering common areas but did not take steps to remove them, they could be held liable if a fire occurs.

In other cases, the person who started the fire may be held liable. If the fire was started intentionally, the person responsible may be charged with arson. If the fire was started accidentally, the person may be held liable if they were negligent in causing the fire. For example, if another tenant left a lit cigarette unattended and it started a fire that spread to your apartment and caused you serious burns, they could be held liable.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an apartment fire, it’s important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options. The attorneys at The Kryder Law Group, LLC have years of experience handling complex personal injury cases and will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

What if I am a renter and am the victim of a fire?

Landlords owe a duty to their tenants to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. When they fail to do so and a tenant is injured, they may hold their landlord accountable in court. This rule generally does not apply when another tenant caused the unsafe condition.

The landlord’s duty to maintain extends to fire safety. When a landlord fails to provide fire prevention equipment or maintain the premises, they can be held liable for any injuries to a tenant, including:

  • Pain and suffering caused by the fire;
  • Loss of a normal life, which accounts for the things you can no longer enjoy as a result of your injuries;
  • Medical bills, including rehabilitation and physical therapy;
  • Scarring and disfigurement from burns, surgical scars, and other wounds;
  • Lost wages or lost income from the time you were out of work as a result of your fire-related injuries;
  • Property damage to your personal belongings, including smoke damage or water damage from the fire department;
  • For spouses, loss of affection and household services from their injured spouse due to their injuries.

Chicago Apartment Fire Safety Infographic

What are some scenarios where landlords are responsible for a fire?

Apartment fires fall under premises liability causes of action. To prove liability in a premises liability case, plaintiffs must show that: 1) the defendant controlled the area where the fire occurred, 2) the area was unreasonably dangerous, 3) the defendants either caused the unreasonably dangerous condition or should have known of the unreasonably dangerous condition, and 4) the defendants did not take adequate precautions to ameliorate it or warn people in the area.

Examples When a Landlord is at Fault for a Fire

Some common scenarios where a landlord can be held responsible include:

  • Faulty electrical wiring that is not up to code;
  • Failure to maintain fire suppression systems such as sprinklers and fireproof doors;
  • Failure to provide fire extinguishers and smoke detectors;
  • Faulty fire escapes;
  • Obstructions in hallways that hinder escape during a fire or prevent access to firefighters;
  • Leaving flammable debris out in basements and attics.

What are some scenarios where landlords are NOT responsible for a fire?

If a landlord does not cause the fire or allow the conditions that create a fire hazard, they cannot be held responsible. Some examples include:

  • Conditions created by tenants, such as kitchen fires or tenants making unauthorized modifications to the property;
  • Conditions created by other individuals;
  • Forest fires and fires that are started on someone else’s property.

What steps can I take to protect myself?

As a renter in Chicago, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from apartment fires:

  • Check for working smoke detectors and test them monthly;
  • Do not leave candles or incense burning unattended;
  • Keep flammable materials away from heat sources;
  • Do not overload electrical outlets or extension cords;
  • Make sure your building’s fire suppression system is up to date;
  • Know your building’s evacuation plan and practice it regularly;
  • Do not block fire exits or hallways with storage;
  • Immediately report any safety hazards to your landlord.

Call Us Today

Taking these precautions can help you avoid becoming a victim of an apartment fire. If you have been injured in a fire, contact The Kryder Law Group, LLC today for a free consultation.

Our experienced personal injury lawyers will help you hold the responsible parties accountable and get the compensation you deserve.

Fire Safety and the Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance

Below is some fire prevention equipment that Chicago landlords must provide to their tenants:

  • Fire extinguishers on each floor if the apartment building is three stories or more.
  • Smoke alarms in each unit and at the top of each stairwell.
  • Working fire escapes for large buildings.
  • Basements, cellars, and attics must be free of excess materials that pose a fire hazard.
  • Hallways and stairwells must have adequate lighting, including emergency lighting.
  • Electrical wiring must be maintained in good condition by a licensed electrician.
  • Windows must open easily.

How to Report Unsafe Conditions in Your Apartment Building

Under the Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance, you have the right to demand, in writing, that they make repairs or replace broken or dangerous equipment. In order to leave a paper trail, you should either send the letter via email or by certified mail, return receipt requested, so you can show proof in writing that the landlord received notice of the dangerous conditions in your apartment.

If your landlord fails to take remedial action, you should consider contacting the Chicago Department of Buildings or dialing 311 to make a formal report. In some instances, you have the option of withholding rent or taking remedial action yourself. For Chicago residents, it is imperative that you follow the Chicago Landlord Tenant Ordinance when taking action.

We Are Here to Help

Apartment fires can be devastating. If you or a loved one has been injured in an apartment fire, it is important to know who can be held accountable. The compassionate personal injury lawyers at The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident & Injury Lawyers are here to help. We have the experience and knowledge to get you the compensation you deserve.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

What if I own my apartment and am the victim of a fire?

Unless the fire was caused by someone, you likely will not be able to recover for your personal injuries in a fire. However, you can recover if someone else, including neighbors, caused the fire.

Fires Caused by Defective Products

If a product defect caused a fire, you can also recover against the product designer and manufacturer. These are especially common in:

  • Vape pens;
  • Hover boards;
  • Electrical heaters;
  • Flammable paints, glues, and aerosols.

Call for a Free Consultation

If you have been injured in a fire, the experienced personal injury lawyers at The Kryder Law Group, LLC Accident & Injury Lawyers are here to help. We will evaluate your case for free to determine if a negligent party caused the fire and can be held responsible for your serious injuries.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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