House Fires in South Dakota

Author: Russ Janklow

According to the Red Cross, home fires were the disaster that presented the greatest threat to people in South Dakota last year. The agency helped more people in the state affected by house fires than all other disasters combined. In 2014, a total of 198 households received financial support from the Red Cross to start replacing lost belongings.

House fires can be devastating – causing massive amounts of damage to property and belongings, as well as the tragic loss of life. The struggle to recover from a house fire can be particularly unbearable if you are not responsible for causing the fire. Victims should not be held responsible for the financial fallout of a fire caused by someone else’s negligence.

With a lawsuit involving a fire, the burden of proof lies with the party filing the case. This means that it’s vitally important to gather evidence surrounding the fire. While flames may destroy some of the physical evidence, an attorney will know which experts to contact that can assemble the facts from what the fire leaves behind.

The investigation of fire cases can get complicated. The origin and cause of a fire must be clearly established, which involves an expert understanding of legal and causation issues. The origin of the fire refers to the location in which the flames started burning first, while the cause of the fire refers to how the fire started. An experienced attorney will be confident speaking with experts such as arson investigators, fire marshals and material experts, as well as electrical or chemical engineers. It is also important in a fire case to evaluate regulations, codes and the treatment of injuries.

The best ways to protect yourself and your family from a house fire are to remove fire hazards and install smoke alarms on every level, and inside and outside sleeping areas. The Red Cross recommends these tips to avoid the most common household fire hazards:

  • Stay in the kitchen when using an open flame to cook (i.e. frying, grilling)
  • Test smoke alarms every month
  • Never smoke in bed
  • Keep matches and lighters out children’s reach
  • Keep furniture and curtains at least three feet from any heat source
  • Plug appliances directly into wall outlets whenever possible

It’s also important to have a household fire evacuation plan that has been reviewed and practiced by each family member. Prevention is key, but if you are already suffering from a fire-related loss, or struggling to receive fair payment from your insurance company, contact Janklow Law for a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of these tragedies fight for their rights and financial security.