Burn injuries caused by fires can be devastating and life-changing. In addition to causing significant pain and physical suffering, these injuries can also leave victims with scarring on their bodies and even their faces that result in disfigurement and emotional trauma.
The American Burn Association reports that nearly 500,000 burn injuries occur in the United States every year that require medical treatment, and 40,000 victims require hospitalization. Of those victims, around 3,200 die due to the extent of their injuries. Around 75 percent of burn victims get injured at home, whether it’s in a house or an apartment building, and nearly half of those burn injuries are caused by open flames and fires.
Fires inside residential buildings can quickly grow out of control and become extremely dangerous to anyone inside. In a matter of minutes, fires can grow from a small section of a single room to engulfing an entire home or apartment building.
People who are burned by residential fires often suffer injuries and complications that include:
The heat produced by fires can damage and even destroy healthy skin and tissue. Second-degree burns are caused by brief exposure to fire or indirect exposure to heat and result in pain, redness, swelling, and blistering. Third-degree burns are caused by prolonged and direct exposure to heat and result in blackened and charred skin that is prone to infection and can even result in life-threatening complications.
Many fire-related deaths aren’t caused directly by flames and heat. Instead, they’re caused by the inhalation of thick, black smoke that results in suffocation. People who inhale smoke are at risk of lung burns as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. Smoke inhalation can result in rapid loss of consciousness, putting victims at risk of severe or fatal burns if the fire grows.
Serious burns almost always result in scarring, which can range from minor to significant. People with extensive burns, especially when they occur on their face, often face psychological problems such as depression and anxiety. In addition, the formation of scar tissue deep inside skin can result in mobility problems due to the tightening effect it has on muscles and tendons located beneath the skin.
Victims who are rescued from fires may still face an uphill battle if their burns are significant and cover a large portion of their bodies. Burns break the protective barrier of the skin, which in turn results in blood loss and fluid loss—a condition called hypovolemia. This can result in a reduced blood flow throughout the body, starving the brain and organs of oxygen and potentially leading to death.
As of January 1, 2016, all apartment buildings and rental residences in the state of Tennessee are required to be equipped with smoke alarms in or audible to people in sleeping quarters that are both nationally recognized and approved as being effective and inspected by an agency approved to do so by the state fire marshal. This requirement also extends to hotels, motels, inns, and other lodgings.
Property owners who fail to abide by this requirement aren’t just breaking the law, but they can also be considered negligent for their failure to protect residents, tenants, and guests by providing an alarm that warns them of fires and smoke. If you were injured in an apartment or rental home fire and your unit wasn’t equipped with a functioning smoke alarm or detector, you may be eligible to file a claim for compensation for things like medical bills and lost wages.
At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville fire and burn injury lawyers know that making residential units as safe as possible in the event of fires should be the top priority for all property managers. When they fail to do so, they can and should be held liable for any injuries that their tenants suffer. Let us fight for your rights to the money you deserve for the pain and suffering your family has endured. Just dial (615) 200-1111 or complete a free online consultation form.