Fire is an ancient danger. According to Greek myth, a fire had to be stolen from the gods, and it remains devastating, dangerous, and unpredictable. Over 3,000 people are killed every year in residential fires in the U.S as smoke, flames, and deadly gases race through their homes.
These deaths are tragic because a very simple modern technology – properly designed, tested, and installed smoke alarms – should be able to keep the ancient danger of fire at bay. The tragedy of a fatality is compounded immeasurably when a smoke detector is installed, but it fails to work. If that happens in your family, you may have a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer of the defective smoke alarm.
Smoke alarms are vital in houses because fires can break out for so many different reasons. The cause could be the spontaneous combustion of old building materials left behind by a contractor. It could be a clogged chimney, a candle, or a short in electrical wiring somewhere in the house. And of course, it could be a kitchen fire, the result of a burner inadvertently left on.
Smoke detectors are supposed to warn of fires caused by these things. This is especially important because, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, most fatal fires happen at night, when people are asleep.
We are all at our most vulnerable when sleeping. That’s why it’s terrible when a defective smoke alarm not only fails to provide protection but also lulls us into a false sense of security.
Smoke alarms come in two main types. Ionization detectors sense smoke particles and use an electronic current. Photoelectric detectors sense beams of light, which diminish when smoke is present. Some commercial smoke alarms contain a combination of the two types; these are called dual sensor smoke alarms.
A stable power source is needed for the smoke alarm to be effective. Alarms can be directly connected to a home’s electrical wiring or run on batteries. They can also be wired into the house with a battery backup.
The batteries can be replaceable, or they can be sealed-long life batteries. Not surprisingly, in the digital age, smoke alarms based on wireless technology are now found in many homes.
It doesn’t matter which type of smoke alarm or power source is chosen. The bottom line is that if a smoke alarm fails and an injury or death results, you may have a cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death. There are several possible legal grounds to consider, starting with a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Talk with an experienced defective product lawyer in your area to learn more about your rights and legal options.