Who Has Liability for an Apartment Fire in California?

Catastrophic injury and death can occur when a fire breaks out at a residential property. When your loved one experiences this type of accident at an apartment or rental home, you may be unsure where to turn to seek compensation for their injuries.

Review the rules about premises liability for rental properties in California.

Factors in liability

The landlord, property owner or manager has responsibility for a fire or accident that results from dangerous conditions. However, these conditions must exist when the tenant moves into the apartment or home. If the fire occurred because of dangerous conditions created by the resident, the property owner or manager would not have legal liability.

For example, the property owner would be responsible for a fire resulting from faulty wiring. The tenant would hold fault for a fire that started because of a candle left burning.

Some rental leases may attempt to limit liability for dangerous incidents such as fires. Carefully review any lease before signing, especially if you notice this type of clause.

Safety steps to take

When you move into a new rental home or apartment, make sure it has fire extinguishers and other safety measures in place. Look for smoke detectors and modern electrical outlets and wiring. Appliances should be in good repair and well-maintained.

After an injury or wrongful death that occurs in a California apartment fire, the injured person or the deceased person’s family can sue within two years of the incident. You may be eligible for economic damages such as medical expenses and disability benefits as well as non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.