Nursing Home Fires Due To Negligence
Nursing home fires get reported each year. By law, nursing home facilities are required to keep their residents safe by offering reasonable care. Nursing home facilities provide care to many elderly residents with physical or mental health problems and so it is crucial for these facilities to have the proper safety equipment and procedures that will minimize resident injury. There are many ways nursing homes can fail at offering proper care and fire safety for residents. Some of these ways include:
- Failing to ensure the facility has a fully functioning sprinkler system that can effectively put out fires before they spread and harm residents.
- Failure to restrict residents from smoking in the nursing home facility. Cigarettes are one of the more common causes of structural fires. Senior citizens who smoke are more likely to fail at properly disposing of their cigarettes when they are finished.
- Failure to place working fire extinguishers in strategic places throughout the facility and making sure each resident knows where they are.
- Failing to hold regular emergency drills to make sure residents are prepared on what course to take if a fire breaks out.
Elderly Smoke Inhalation
When a structural fire breaks out in a nursing home facility, one of the most common injuries reported by residents is smoke inhalation. Oftentimes, nursing home residents who survived structural fires may end up being faced with lung-related issues for the rest of their lives, including bronchitis and labored breathing problems. The pain and suffering residents may have to suffer from these types of fire-related injuries can be unimaginable.
If your loved one has suffered from smoke inhalation due to a fire caused by nursing home negligence, you need a reputable and trustworthy law firm on your side. Our nursing home negligence lawyers here at KBA Attorneys will stay by your side while fighting to get the compensation your loved one deserves.
Elderly Burn Injuries
Even if your loved one does not die from a fire breaking out in their nursing home, many other serious injuries could result. The skin and bodies of elderly people are more fragile and can easily become damaged from a fire. A nursing home fire may result in severe burns that an elderly person’s body cannot heal. Most nursing home residents are older citizens who have mobility issues, and they may not be able to deal with any type of injuries without a lot of pain and suffering. Additionally, medical expenses from nursing home fire injuries can be very expensive.
Nursing Home Fire Statistics
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were over 2,700 nursing home fires reported in the United States to local fire departments each year from the beginning of 2012 to the end of 2014. This was almost half of all fires being reported each year. This statistic alone shows how nursing homes are a huge cause for concern when it comes to fire hazards and safety. Out of the 2,700 nursing home fires, there were more than 125 injuries and several deaths.
Causes of Nursing Home Fires
Most nursing home fires are caused by cooking. These fires are commonly small fires that do not result in serious injuries, death, or structural damage. Large, unconfined structural fires make up around 26% of nursing home fires. The leading causes of nursing home fires included appliances, electrical malfunctions, heating devices, and cooking.
When you visit a nursing home facility, you will most likely not have any problem seeing pressurized oxygen tanks around. Most facilities can contain hundreds of these oxygen tanks. These tanks and other medical fire hazards can easily turn small fires into large catastrophes. Candles, dropped cigarettes, unattended cigarettes and other devices can lead to fires. Many elderly residents are groggy or forgetful because of the many medications they may be on.
Other common causes of nursing home fire injuries include:
- Poorly maintained building equipment, including fire alarms and sprinkler systems
- No evacuation plan
- Poor building design
- Failure to call 911 in a timely manner
- Negligent staffing
- Poor staff training
- Blocked Exits
No matter what the cause of a fire may be in a nursing home setting, the damages and injuries can be severe or deadly. Unfortunately, residents of nursing homes are significantly more susceptible to getting injured or burned by fires of all sizes. Even minor burns can lead to complications. Additionally, smoke inhalation is a common fire-related injury in nursing home fire incidents. If an elderly individual is not quickly and effectively evacuated from nursing home premises, the nursing home can be eligible for damages.
Nursing Home Fires in Recent Years
In March 2017, two people died and four were hospitalized at an assisted living home that caught fire in West Baltimore. The facility was owned and operated by Kozy Kottage, which was approved for eight beds. The home housed seven people, including one person with multiple sclerosis who needed assistance with basic tasks, such as getting dressed.
In July 2017, a fire at a senior living home in Virginia killed three people. The Chesapeake Fire Department arrived on the scene, but by then it was too late.
In November 2017, four people were killed in the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community when a fire broke out on the patio of the building. The cause of the fire was associated with faulty sprinkler systems and smoke alarms. Families of the victims have filed lawsuits.
In August 2018, a fire at Elkton Transitional Care broke out, sending two residents and an employee to the hospital. The fire was caused by a problem with a wall-mounted air-conditioning unit, according to investigators. Singerly Volunteer Fire Company responded with 25 firefighters.
In April 2018, four elderly residents of a Pennsylvania nursing home died in a nursing home fire. According to reports, the facility’s water sprinkler system was turned off and contained no water during the fire.
In July 2019, a fire broke out at the Pataskala Care Center after an electrical panel ignited and spread to the attic where the fire grew significantly. The nursing home fire left dozens of people displaced.
How Are Nursing Homes Liable For Fires?
Nursing home staff have a duty to make sure your loved one is properly and safely cared for while they’re living on the premises. If they fail in this regard, they can and should be held liable. For example, nursing home facilities are often obligated to make sure they have proper fire suppression sprinkler systems placed throughout the premises. These are necessary to help lessen the chances that a fire will spread after starting.
Staff and owners of nursing home facilities can be held accountable for nursing home premises liability for failing to make sure the facility has working sprinklers. They also need to ensure there is an effective evacuation plan in place in the event of a fire. Failure to have an evacuation plan in place that all staff is trained for will result in their liability.
Fire And Burn Injury Verdicts For Nursing Homes
People with loved ones injured in a nursing home fire will want to know what their case is worth and the settlement amount that should be expected. There is not a single way these types of case settlements are determined. One resource for determining potential outcomes is by looking into similar cases with settled verdicts.
Virginia 2013 ($1.2 million Verdict)
A nursing home resident was left outside to smoke unattended. When the nurse came back to get him, he was on the ground and his clothes were on fire. He died two years later after suffering from pain and third-degree burns. The facility was sued by his estate for improper supervision and negligence.
Pennsylvania 2009 ($120,000 Verdict)
The plaintiff was a resident of a nursing home and fell asleep smoking in his bed. His sheets caught fire and set the alarms off. Despite prompt aid being given, he suffered burns to one-third of his body and died a couple of weeks later. His estate sought a wrongful death suit and won.
Widespread Nursing Home Incidences of Negligence
Across the country, there are many cases of nursing home abuse, negligence, and malpractice. Fires are a common concern when people place their elderly loved ones in a nursing home. When you place them in the care of a facility, you are putting your confidence in the nursing staff to take care of them in their advanced years.
Sadly, many nursing homes are making this goal more challenging than it is supposed to be. The evidence is overwhelming that nursing home residents are not properly cared for. The conditions are often substandard or worse. Quality care comes at a steep price and facilities often look for ways to squeeze the bottom line in exchange for their resident’s care and safety.
Without proper attention to care and procedures, there is a higher risk of fire-related injuries in nursing home settings. Residents of nursing homes are often more prone to making mistakes that can prove disastrous. They are also more at risk of ignoring dangerous warning signs and less able to react to the threats that come about.
Speak With Our Nursing Home Fire Lawyer
If you have a parent or loved one in a nursing home facility who was injured or killed as a result of a nursing home fire, contact KBA Attorneys. Our nursing home fire lawyers will guide you through the entire litigation process to get your family the justice they deserve. Call us today for a free consultation.
- USFA. “Data snapshot: Nursing home fires (2012-2014)”, U.S. Fire Administration, https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/reports/snapshot_nursing_home.html. Accessed August 5, 2019.
- Greg Jakubowski. “Nursing Home Fire Tactics”, Fire Rescue, https://www.firerescuemagazine.com/articles/print/volume-11/issue-11/firefighting-operations/nursing-home-fire-tactics.html. Accessed August 5, 2019.
- NFPA. “Nursing homes”, National Fire Protection Association, https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Staying-safe/Safety-in-living-and-entertainment-spaces/Nursing-homes. Accessd August 5, 2019.