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How Safe Are Indoor Fireplaces?

When the cold of winter settles in, fireplaces become a very popular way to spend some time inside warming up. When people use them safely, they provide a nice, comfortable setting around which families can make memories. However, if the fireplace has a defect, what could have been a nice family moment could prove disastrous. Those present could suffer serious consequences, even if not in the room. From smoke inhalation to severe burns, injuries from a defective product could mean a company owes you compensation for medical care, lost wages, and even pain and suffering.

Product Liability

Where liability lies depends greatly on the injury someone suffers. If, while using or enjoying a fireplace, some mechanism in the fireplace injures you, then the liability will lie with one of three entities: the maker, the seller, or the distributor of the fireplace. Additionally, if the injury resulted from a defect caused by the installation, the provider of that service could bear responsibility. Most manufacturing and distributing companies carry “product liability insurance” in case a defect in a product they make or deliver causes an injury. In this case, you should contact a personal injury attorney like Estey & Bomberger, LLP to help you with your claim.

Fire Place Defects

A defect covers a wide variety of malfunction. Reasons for defects can vary. Most commonly, defects fall into one of three types of classification:

  • Manufacturing Defect. When manufacturers build a product, errors can happen. These errors can lead to a malfunction in the product’s operation later, leading to an injury. This is a manufacturing defect. Another cause of this type of defect stems from a company employing poor quality materials in the making of the product. This mistake can be the cause of cost-cutting measures or simple error during inspection of the materials. These types of defects can take years to surface.
  • Design Defect. A design defect exists when the manufacturer’s design team builds in a design flaw. Unlike the manufacturing defect, this one applies to all of the pieces a company manufactured, not just one. A flaw someone missed in the prototype phase is usually the culprit, one that the team either missed or miscalculated the potential effects the flaw could cause.
  • Labelling Defect. When manufacturers ship the product, the company that designed it applies labels with a variety of information on them, including warnings during use, installation instructions, or guidelines for use. If the company fails to provide adequate labelling and an accident occurs as a result, the product has a labelling defect.

What are Common Injuries from a Fireplace?

Several different injuries might ensue from a defective fireplace. These include:

  • Smoke inhalation
  • Vision impairment
  • Respiratory problems
  • Lung collapse
  • Burns
  • Disfigurement
  • Brain injury (potentially traumatic)
  • Death

In the event an accident takes place, call for help immediately. Move the injured parties away from the fireplace as safely as possible. Make sure you or those injured seek the right medical care as soon as possible and that you get copies of the complete records regarding the injuries and care given.

If the fire spreads, evacuate the premises and wait for the authorities to come put the fire out. Afterward, do not touch or move anything around the fireplace as this could taint evidence crucial to filing an insurance claim or lawsuit. Make certain you get all of the manufacturing information on the product, including make and model number. If possible, find out who installed the fireplace in case the defect occurred due to incorrect installation.

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