Residential fires cause immeasurable harm and heartache to U.S. families and individuals every single day. Many of these fires are predictable and preventable, but they happen anyway, because investing in fire safety isn’t the priority that it should be for the corporate landowners who control most apartment complexes and mobile home parks.
The Stoddard Firm is committed to holding landlords accountable and helping people who’ve been injured or lost family in residential fires get the compensation they need to put their lives back together.
Why You Should Select the Stoddard Firm
We Know How to Handle Residential Fire Cases
The impact of a fire in your apartment or mobile home is far-reaching and life-changing. It directly disrupts both how and where you live. Of course, a fire can happen just about anywhere – quite simply, accidents happen.
But, when a fire is caused by the negligent actions or inactions of your landlord, they may be held financially responsible for your losses.
Fire-related damages are typically considerable. In addition to the loss of property and a place to live, physical injury and emotional trauma often result. Burns are incredibly painful injuries, often life-changing, causing permanent damage. In the most serious instances, people can lose their lives.
Apartment landlords must do a better job protecting their tenants. In Georgia, the law provides recourse for those injured in apartment fires due to landlord negligence. But, getting an appropriate settlement can be a challenge. Your landlord will likely fight you tooth and nail. The Stoddard Firm has all the attributes necessary to manage your lawsuit appropriately. We are the firm of choice in cases like this.
As a client of The Stoddard Firm, you will have access to our:
Experience in Handling Premises Liability Cases: Led by Matt Stoddard, our firm has handled countless premises liability cases, many dealing with apartment fires, in the Atlanta area. Our knowledge of Georgia law is significant, and our skills in negotiation and litigation outstanding.
Service Approach Designed to Meet Your Needs: Life is impossible to predict. What we do know for sure, though, is that each and every premises liability case we handle is unique. No two events are ever the same, and their causes and impact on their victims are specific and very personal. Accordingly, our approach to service is flexible in nature.We tailor how we handle each case to the situation at hand and the needs of each client. Our apartment fire attorney will conduct a thorough investigation, understand the totality of your damages and answer your questions completely. Sympathetic and patient communication is a hallmark of our service. Nothing speaks more strongly to our service than our client’s words.
A Stellar Reputation: Our successes are considerable. We are known for skillfully negotiating, and we never hesitate to litigate if we don’t believe the settlement being offered is appropriate. Those whose negligent actions or inactions result in an apartment fire should be held liable for damages.
Working with the right firm can make a real difference in your compensation. Reach out to our apartment fire attorney today at 470-467-2200 to learn how we can bring value to your case.
What Our Apartment Accident Attorney Can Do for You
Handle Your Case from Beginning to End
Undertaking a lawsuit is overwhelming – you simply don’t have the experience, knowledge and time to appropriately manage the multi-step legal process while recovering from your physical and emotional injuries. Your home has been compromised. Handling a lawsuit while processing a devastating apartment fire is incomprehensible.
When you engage us to handle your apartment fire injury lawsuit, you can be sure that the entire process will be handled appropriately. We will:
Complete a Thorough Investigation: Compiling evidence in apartment fire cases is crucial and can mean the difference between winning and losing. We will assume responsibility for gathering all evidence (including, but not limited to, first responder reports, medical bills, statements from witnesses and photos). Timing is critical; acquiring correct information is easier when we begin work soon after the incident. Over time, memories fade and reports becomes more difficult to obtain.
Manage all Administrative Tasks: Filing a premises liability suit requires completing and submitting a great deal of paperwork. We will adopt responsibility for this entire process ensuring all documents are filed correctly and in a timely fashion.
Calculate Losses: It is important to have an actual accounting of your total losses, including both those incurred to date and those you may recognize in the future. Our team can help; we want to ensure the settlement we request appropriately compensates you. We have access to expert witnesses whose testimony can substantiate anything that may be questioned.
Proving Negligence: Our seasoned fire injury attorney knows how to prove negligence when an apartment fire occurs. We will leverage our experience to show the four required factors: duty, breach, causation and damages.
Negotiate a Settlement: Years of experience has made us skilled negotiators. We know the process and never settle for less than what we believe is fair.
Represent You in Court: Should we not reach a mutually agreed upon settlement, we will not hesitate to take your case to court, where we will aggressively litigate on your behalf. Our ultimate goal is to maximize your settlement.
Working with us means that you have the time to focus your energy where it is most needed: on your recovery, your family, and your home. Take care of yourself and let us handle the rest. Our team is ready to begin work for you immediately.
Fires Wreak Havoc
The Damage from Residential Fires Is Devastating
The idea of losing everything you own to a fire is terrifying, but the idea of being caught in a fire can be difficult to imagine. In theory, aside from the emotional loss, walking away from a fire along a familiar exit route seems like it should be easy. In reality, however, the speed at which residential fires rage out of control makes them a very serious threat to life and limb.
If the occupants of a burning building don’t escape immediately, the situation becomes increasingly deadly with each passing minute. The average air temperature can reach 1800 degrees Fahrenheit when the fire is fully developed. That’s hot enough to kill a person in one breath through lung damage alone. For those who do escape before this point, the after-effects of serious burns and smoke inhalation can be disfiguring, disabling, and even life-threatening. In addition to direct tissue damage from the heat, building fires produce large amounts of poisonous carbon monoxide, which can kill outright or cause permanent injuries to the brain, heart, and other internal organs.
Many fire survivors also sustain secondary injuries, such as broken bones and lacerations, due to being struck by collapsing structures or escaping through windows and other alternative routes when the main exit becomes blocked. That’s what one family was recently forced to do in South Fulton County. When they discovered that their condo complex was on fire and their front door already impassable, a grandmother and her grandchildren, as well as her pregnant daughter-in-law, had to jump from their balcony. The whole family managed to escape safely, but only thanks to the help of some heroic neighbors who stayed near the burning complex to catch the children.
Many fire survivors aren’t so lucky and end up facing a long, painful, costly physical recovery.
Apartments Are More Vulnerable to Fire than Traditional Single-Family Homes
When most people imagine residential fires, they think of house fires in detached, single-family homes. However, studies show that renters in apartment complexes are significantly more likely to suffer a residential fire than homeowners.
According to a survey of fire statistics from 2021, 29% of all residential fires happen in multi-family structures, like apartment buildings, mobile homes and townhouses, resulting in severe injury and many deaths. Considering the fact that multi-family buildings only make up about 31% of American housing, that’s already an elevated fire risk for the people living there, but it only gets worse upon further examination of the numbers.
Mobile homes, known in the industry as “manufactured homes,” house some 22 million U.S. residents. That’s a lot of people, but it’s less than 10% of the total U.S population. And yet, data collected by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) across the years 2007-2011 indicates that mobile home fires cost an average of 206 lives per year. That’s more than half as many deaths as multi-family building fires, even though only two-fifths as many people live in mobile homes.
For apartment residents, the fact that mobile home fires are factored into the “safer” side of the multi-family vs. single-family housing equation should be concerning, to say the least. It means that the risk of fire in an apartment is much higher than it is in a non-mobile house.
Mobile Home Renters Bear the Brunt of Fire-Related Tragedies
Of course, these statistics are even worse news for mobile home residents, who face the highest odds of dying, being injured, or losing everything in a fire. This problem can be seen tragically clearly here in Georgia.
For example, on January 6, 2020, a 73-year-old woman was found dead in the wreckage of her Bryan County mobile home, after an improperly vented dryer hose apparently started a fire in her laundry room. At the time, the incident was reported to be Georgia’s first fire-related death of the year. That isn’t true, but the death that preceded it also happened in a mobile home. Just two days earlier, another woman died of smoke inhalation inside her burning mobile home in Glynn County. Firefighters arrived to discover the woman’s boyfriend attempting to extinguish the blaze with a garden hose, the fire chief blaming “bad wiring throughout” the home.
Less than three weeks later, yet another Georgia mobile home, this one in Portal, became the site of the year’s third fatal house fire. A man and his dog were both found deceased inside, as was a space heater that may have been the source of ignition.
Although mobile homes are often marketed as an affordable route to the American dream of homeownership, many people who live in mobile homes are actually renters, meaning that any faulty heating, wiring, and built-in appliances are the responsibility of a landlord. In many cases, mobile home deaths are caused by a landlord’s failure to maintain the home in safe, livable condition.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Apartment Fire Lawsuits
The Stoddard Firm Apartment Fire Attorney Responds
If you live in an apartment where there has been a fire and are considering filing a premises liability claim, it is not uncommon to have some questions. The legal process is complex, and your concerns are valid. Below we have shared some of the issues our clients raise most often, along with our responses.
How long after the fire do I have to file a lawsuit?
The statute of limitations is the law which sets time limits for the filing of lawsuits. Premises liability suits for personal injury, under which apartment fire negligence falls, must be filed within two years from the date of the fire. The statute of limitations for property damage, however, is four years. If you wait too long, the courts will not hear your case.
My apartment caught fire, I was injured and the damage was substantial. What can I sue for?
In Georgia, compensation in premises liability suits can include economic, non-economic and sometimes punitive damages. Economic damages are easily quantifiable and include medical expenses, lost wages and damaged property. Non-economic damages are more abstract and include pain and suffering and emotional distress. Punitive damages are less commonly assessed. Our apartment fire lawyer can review your case and help quantify your damages.
The cause of my apartment fire was arson; can I still sue my landlord?
Depending upon the circumstances surrounding the fire, your landlord may still be held responsible. Our apartment fire lawyer can review your case and let you know.
One member of my family was killed in an apartment fire. What can I do?
You may have cause to file a wrongful death lawsuit against your landlord. We can review the evidence and let you know if this is a possibility. If so, our wrongful death attorney can help you move forward.
We realize that the concerns shared above are only the tip of the iceberg of those you probably have. Please get in touch with our apartment accident attorney today to schedule a free consultation. This meeting will provide us with additional information that will allow our team to offer you more specific answers to questions regarding your case.
Minimizing Your Risk of Fire-Related Death or Apartment Fire Injury
Successfully preventing fires begins with understanding how fires usually start. The NFPA currently recognizes five top causes of residential fires:
While several of these types of ignitions are caused or influenced by building maintenance issues, there are some things renters can do to reduce their individual risk. For example, anything made of cloth or paper should be kept away from heat sources, and it’s a good idea to avoid cooking, smoking, or lighting candles in any situation where you might fall asleep.
If you have concerns about the condition of your cooking appliances, heater, or wiring, it may be helpful to submit these concerns to your landlord or building manager in writing.
That way, if there is a fire, you’ll have a paper trail that makes it hard for your landlord to argue that they didn’t know about the problem. Ideally, losing this deniability should motivate them to make repairs before a fire can start and their negligence can catch up with them.
Your Landlord Has a Responsibility to Protect You from Fire
Unfortunately, when you rent your apartment or mobile home, many of the factors that determine your fire safety are ultimately out of your control. At the end of the day, you’re trusting that your landlord is maintaining the property correctly, which often isn’t the case. For what it’s worth, however, safety-conscious maintenance isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a legal one. If you’re injured because your building wasn’t fire-safe, you have avenues of recourse under the law.
Every property owner has a general responsibility to take all reasonable measures to keep tenants and guests on that property safe from known dangers. This most definitely includes fires, which are a prevalent enough danger to require consideration at every phase of planning, building, and maintaining a structure.
Failure to address a predictable safety hazard counts as negligence on a landlord’s part, whether the hazard violates a specific regulation or not, but in the case of fire, the applicable regulations are quite extensive. If you believe your building is a fire risk, the first places to look for confirmation are the International Fire Code and the International Building Code. Like every U.S state, Georgia honors these codes with a few local modifications.
Some of the most basic, common sense fire safety measures mandated by the codes include:
A smoke detector in every bedroom, accompanied by a carbon monoxide detector if the unit uses fuel-burning appliances
Regularly spaced fire extinguishers
Unobstructed escape routes from every unit
Emergency lighting along these escape routes, with an independent backup power supply.
The codes also heavily regulate electrical systems, the fire resistance level of a structure’s building materials, and many other details that are almost impossible for a layperson to verify. Just because a building doesn’t look like a firetrap, this doesn’t mean corners haven’t been cut that could lead to a tragedy. It’s always best to wait for a full investigation before assuming that a fire was pure resident carelessness or “nobody’s fault.”
Landlords May Share Responsibility for Fires that Were Intentionally Set
Although less common than accidental fires, arson is also a significant issue for apartment dwellers, because an attack on just one apartment can put every family in the complex at risk. Like any other foreseeable danger, landlords are required to protect their tenants from criminal threats and significant red flags, including signs of a serial arsonist on or near the property. Buildings must also be designed to impede the spread of fire from one unit to another.
Motivations for arson include everything from insurance fraud to a pathological fascination with fire, so an arsonist might set a fire at random, at the home of a perceived enemy, or even in their own home. The latter is what appears to have happened in Bacon County, the day after Christmas of 2019. In that case, firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the apartment of the man now charged with starting it, but if the building had been less well-designed, many other families could have been harmed or displaced before help arrived.
What to Do After an Apartment or Mobile Home Fire
If a fire starts in your home, the first priority is, of course, getting yourself and your family outside. Once you are safe, call 911 so the fire can be contained, medical care given, and rescue attempts for anyone trapped inside. If you’re separated from your loved ones during evacuation, notify the firefighters, and let them do their job. Re-entering a burning building without proper equipment is less likely to help others than it is to put you in need of rescue yourself.
What to Do if I Get Injured in an Apartment Fire
Even if you feel okay at first, seek medical attention for the effects of smoke inhalation and any injuries you might have overlooked due to adrenaline. If you do end up needing treatment for serious injuries or, worse, if someone you love didn’t make it out, your next call should be to a legal expert like those at The Stoddard Firm.
We have experience proving the severity of our clients’ injuries, demonstrating how they were caused by the fire in question, and establishing what a landlord could and should have done to prevent them.
Contact Us as Soon as Possible
Timing is important. The ability to investigate and obtain accurate information is significantly greater when we can begin work immediately. Additionally, you want to be sure to file within the statute of limitations.
We know Georgia premises liability law, are experienced in calculating damages and are seasoned negotiations and litigators. Take advantage of all we have to offer and talk to one of our apartment fire attorneys about a fatal or injury-causing fire in your rented apartment or mobile home. Contact us at 470-467-2200 or reach out online for a free consultation.
Attorney Matt Stoddard
Matt Stoddard is a professional, hardworking, ethical advocate. He routinely faces some of the nation’s largest companies and some of the world’s largest insurers – opponents who have virtually unlimited resources. In these circumstances, Mr. Stoddard is comfortable. Mr. Stoddard provides his strongest efforts to his clients, and he devotes the firm’s significant financial resources to presenting the strongest case possible on their behalf. Matt understands that his clients must put their trust in him. That trust creates an obligation for Matt to work tirelessly on their behalf, and Matt Stoddard does not take that obligation lightly. [ Attorney Bio ]
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Any time you walk into a building in Georgia and see an elevator, you’re looking at a collaboration between at least two separate organizations, usually more.
First, there’s the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, which is responsible for performing regular inspections on all licensed elevators in Georgia.
Typically, there’s also a private company providing regular maintenan...