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Contractor Negligence | Electrical Fire

Steve Wagner

Is contractor negligence responsible for your house fire?

As we look forward to December and January, it’s important to know these months ring in more than just the new year. Those two months are responsible for the highest number of house fires and for numerous resulting injuries, deaths, and thousands of dollars in property damage. The victims of fires may experience temporary injuries related to smoke inhalation or more serious, long-term injuries requiring ongoing treatment. These injuries can include second- and third-degree burns and respiratory damage from inhaling chemicals released during a fire. Fires can be devastating, but they always have a cause. In some cases, the cause can result in your eligibility for financial compensation.

In 2014, there were nearly 500,000 structure fires in the U.S., with one home structure fire reported every 86 seconds. The National Fire Protection Association notes that structure fires caused 2,860 civilian deaths, 13,425 civilian injuries, and nearly $10 BILLION in property damage. The Midwest is the number one region in the United States for fire deaths per million people.

45,000 – 55,000 of these fires each year are caused by electrical failures or malfunctions, some of which are related to problematic use or maintenance of electrical wiring or appliances by the homeowner; however, many times the source of the fire can also be traced to a general contractor and/or electrician who was negligent in completing home renovations or repairs. In addition, a faulty material or product may play a role in the cause of a fire, creating possible grounds for a product liability case.

Protect Yourself and Your Family

One of the best ways to protect yourself and your family is to use electricity and electrical appliances responsibly.

  • Never use appliances with worn or otherwise damaged cords.
  • Ensure light bulbs are the appropriate wattage and not too high for the fixture or lamp in which it is being used.
  • Avoid overloading circuits or extension cords.
  • If your home is older and has not been inspected recently, hire an electrician to ensure your wiring is up to date enough to handle the modern demands for electricity.
  • Avoid using extension cords as permanent solutions.
  • When using space heaters, be sure not to place them too close to furniture, curtains, or other materials that may catch fire.
  • Never run cords under rugs.
  • Teach children about fire and electrical safety.

Hiring Contractors or Electricians

If you hire an electrician or contractor to do work on your home, it is critically important for your protection that you ensure he or she is licensed, bonded, and insured. Since requirements for each of these will vary according to state and/or city, you should take time to understand what you are getting when you are hiring someone to complete work on your home. For example, there is no state-level
licensing requirement for most skilled trades in Indiana, with the exception being for plumbers.

In Marion County and Indianapolis, General Contractors are required to be licensed. In order to be licensed, they must:

  • Register the business name with the appropriate entity
  • Submit a license application to The Department of Code Enforcement
  • Provide proof that the business has at least 1 agent able to obtain project permits
  • Provide proof of general liability insurance
  • Provide proof of worker’s compensation insurance
  • Provide proof of a surety bond
  • Pay the appropriate license fee
  • Attend a mandatory orientation class within 60 days of receiving the license

Hiring unlicensed contractors or unlicensed skilled workers may leave you outside of state policies and protections. In addition, it is probably safe to say that those who are working without meeting state or local requirements are more likely to breaking additional rules while completing work in your home.

Are you experiencing pain and suffering due to an injury caused by contractor negligence?

Have you been injured or experienced loss due to a house fire? Do you believe negligence on the part of a contractor or electrician may be the cause? You may also have experienced a traumatic injury due to contractor negligence resulting in other types of structural flaws and accidents. If so, our Indianapolis-based personal injury attorneys may be able to help you put your life back together. Call Wagner Reese now for a FREE consultation: (888) 204-8440.

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