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Bronx Personal Injury & Real Estate Blog

Monday, January 22, 2018

Bronx Apartment Fire Investigation May Spark Wrong Death Suits

Q: Who is responsible for the deadly Bronx apartment building fire?

It's been described as the deadliest fire in New York City history in over 25 years. As the investigation continues, preliminary findings suggest that Bronx wrongful death lawsuits may likely be filed.

The question is…against which defendants?

Just days after Christmas a 5-story Bronx apartment building went up in flames, killing 12 people who ranged in age from seven months to 58 years old, including a soldier on holiday leave who perished while trying to rescue others, according to witnesses.

Reportedly, the fire was started at the stove of a first-floor apartment by a 3-year-old toddler with "a history of playing with the burners and turning them on". The family escaped their first-floor apartment unharmed. But reportedly leaving their apartment door open enabled the flames to quickly engulf the five-story walk-up building and blocked the escape of many tenants trapped on other floors.

According to authorities, the 26-unit apartment building was required by law to have "self-closing and fireproof doors". Such doors would have enabled the fire to be contained longer and may have given others hours instead of minutes to evacuate safely. While the excessively-charred apartment door and the speed of the spreading fire might suggest a lack of fire-proof doors, it is unclear at this point in the investigation if fire safety doors were installed and/or whether an obstruction may have caused the apartment door to have remained ajar.  

A wrongful death lawsuit is appropriate where a death is caused by the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions or inactions of another person or entity. Sometimes, liability for the accident falls on more than one person or entity.

No doubt, investigators will focus on these and other questions:

  • whether the landlord installed the required fire-proof doors
  • whether the door malfunctioned as a result of a manufacturing or other defect
  • whether the door remained open due to an obstruction and, if so, who or what caused the obstruction
  • whether the parent of the toddler with the history of playing with stove knobs was negligent in supervising him at the time the fire began

Wrongful death lawsuits, an area of personal injury law, are complicated and differ on a case-by-case basis. Generally, the closest surviving family members of the victim, as well as the victim’s estate, can bring a wrongful death lawsuit. The time to commence such an action may also be very limited, so seeking a Bronx personal injury attorney as soon as possible is important to preserve your right to sue.

Compensatory damages for wrongful death generally include the victim’s final medical expenses and burial expenses. In addition, damages related to loss of financial support and companionship may be appropriate.

If you or a loved one has been injured or a loved one has been killed due to the actions of somebody else, the Goldstein Law Firm can help maximize the compensation to which you are entitled. While we can't undo the accident, we can help reduce the financial burden it has caused so you can focus on healing. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our office in the Bronx, New York, we represent injured New Yorkers as well as those hurt while visiting New York State.



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