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Child Killed in Chicago Apartment Building Fire

It is always heartbreaking to hear that a child has been put in the way of danger and suffered injuries. However, it’s especially hard to learn about the death of the child, especially when the death was preventable but for negligent actions of another party. Unfortunately, our attorneys read all too often about these incidents involving the negligence of in hospitals, on roadways and by property owners and managers. Under premises liability law, a property owner may be held liable for one’s injury or death if it is found that the injuries were a result of owner negligence.

Common injuries on properties include slip and fall accidents, building fire injuries, dog bites, drownings, and exposure to toxic or hazardous substances like mold or lead. When a victim holds the landowner responsible in a premises liability lawsuit, the victim must prove that the property owner failed to maintain the property or created unsafe conditions that caused injury, knew about a hazard but did not alert those in the building or on the land, created unsafe hazards that attracted children, or neglected conditions that caused damage to the property and neighboring property.

According to recent news by the Chicago Tribune, a 10-year-old boy died in a fire in Chicago’s northwest side. The fire took place in an apartment building on North Kimball Avenue where the boy lived on the third floor with his family. In addition to the death of this boy, eleven other people were injured, five of whom were children. Two are now in critical condition at local hospitals. One resident awoke to someone breaking her kitchen window, smoke, and screams. She and her family had to jump out of the building. They never remembered the fire alarms going off in the building. According to the report, his is not the first fire that has occurred at this building either; another occurred just a few years ago.

Fire department officials called this third floor fire suspicious, according to the same article, noting that the building has had numerous building code violations dating back to 1995. The report notes that there was a recent failed inspection in 2012, as revealed by city and court records. During this inspection, building inspectors found a smoke detector wasn’t working in the top of the stairwell and in two units in the entryway of the building. In 2005 and 2006, inspectors cited the building with serious violations such as broken rear doors, defective front doors, exposed wiring, and improperly constructed rear porches. In such cases, the city had taken the building owners to administrative hearings, including a housing court case in Cook County Circuit Court.

Our lawyers believe that no one should die from preventable accidents caused by negligence, especially the most innocent of victims – our children. Our firm has over twenty years of experience handling premises liability lawsuits, including those involving fires that have taken the lives of children. In one Chicago fire lawsuit, John Perconti obtained a $6 million settlement for the families of six children who died and two who were injured in a Rogers Park apartment fire. Our investigation found that the fire occurred due to an open flame source near the front door, and firefighters confirmed there were no smoke detectors in the apartment. One smoke detector was discovered in the hallway, but it was a model that had been recalled by the manufacturer in 1992 due to defects and potential horn failure. Through our investigation we also learned that the building owners did not inspect, replace, or maintain their smoke detectors. Other smoke detectors that were found were over 10 years old and should have been replaced. According to witnesses at the fire, no smoke detector sounded during the fire. City Code dictated that here should have been at least two working smoke detectors in the apartment and one in the hallway. Had there been these smoke detectors and safety precautions in place in compliance with the Code, the families would have had time to escape the building without serious injury or death.

According to Chicago Municipal Code 13-64-120 smoke detectors are required in all residential units. The Code continues to describe in 13-64-130 that at least one smoke detector should be installed in every single-family residential unit and multiple dwelling units. It should be installed on the ceiling and within at least 15 feet of all rooms that are used for sleeping. There should be one detector per level that contains a habitable room or unenclosed heating plant.

If you or someone you love has suffered from injury or death from dangerous conditions in a building or on another’s land, you might consider a premises liability lawsuit to recover compensation for costs you would not have incurred but for the accident such as medical bills, funeral costs, or lost wages. Our firm offers free consultations, and we would be happy to talk with you and discuss your legal options. Call us today, and we may be able to help you with your potential case.