Home space heaters and outdoor gas propane heaters are necessary for some in the colder winter months, when other heating sources are unavailable. Thousands of people use propane space heaters and patio heaters and don’t think twice about the safety and fire risks they present, however, when in fact these are the cause of many fire accidents and burn injuries each year.
Heating equipment is the direct cause of about 50,000 fire and burn accidents each year, leading to injuries and deaths, that should be prevented. Over 30 percent of home fires in the U.S. are caused by space heaters.
Patio heater accidents occur very commonly when heaters are not monitored, the appliance is defective, or when a child is allowed within a certain distance of the heater. Homes and businesses are at risk for patio heater accidents, and some basic safety precautions should be followed, including the following:
Joe Lyon is an experienced Burn Injury Lawyer and Consumer Safety Attorney reviewing defective space heaters, burn and fire risks, and premises liability cases for injured plaintiffs nationwide.
Each year, many space heaters, propane heaters, gas heaters, and patio heaters are recalled due to design defects, manufacturing defects, or a lack of warnings about the fire and burn risks involved with heating products.
Consumers have the right to purchase safe heating products, and manufacturers have a duty to properly warn people of the risks their products present. Should fires and burn injuries result from space heater or patio heater accidents, manufacturers or landlords may be liable for contributing to a hazardous living space.
Many product liability cases have had a positive impact on public health and safety, and we have witnessed improved lives and future injuries prevented as companies are forced to remove products and change designs and warnings as a result of litigation.
If you have been injured by a home heater or patio heater due to a defect in the product, contact an attorney to investigate.
Product liability lawsuits often contain causes of action for strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Strict liability applies to different factors than negligence-based claims.
In negligence cases, the actions of the defendant are the focus. In strict liability claims, the focus is on the condition of a product at the time it left the manufacturer. If a product is determined to be defective, the company is liable for any foreseeable injuries that are in-part caused by the defective condition of the heater.
A patio heater may be defective if it is unreasonably dangerous for its intended use. A legal cause of action can be based on several types of product defects. The following are Cincinnati product liability and strict liability claims available in Ohio and in most jurisdictions nationwide:
(1) Manufacturing/ Construction Defect:
These issues arise where the heater is released from the factory in a manner that deviates from the intended design or specifications.
As a result of the deviation, the product enters the market in an unreasonably dangerous condition and the consumer is exposed to or purchases a product that is defective. Any personal injuries or economic loss that arise from the the defect are compensable under product liability law.
(2) Defective heater design:
Defective design product liability cases arise not because a mistake was made during the manufacturing process, but rather the original design of the product is unreasonably dangerous. A “risk benefit analysis” is used to determine whether safer/less expensive alternative designs were available to the manufacturer.
Federal regulations set minimum standards for the design of many consumer products, and preemption defenses may preclude liability in some situations if the manufacturer follows and obtains federal approval for a product. Automotive recalls and product liability cases are usually a result of a defective design.
(3) Failure to warn or inadequate warning or instruction associated with the heater:
All space heaters come with necessary and appropriate warnings and instructions for use. If the lack of a warning makes the product and use of the product unsafe, the manufacturer is liable for the failure to place the warning.
Heater manufacturers are required to warn of the known or foreseeable fire and burn risks. Litigation arises where there is evidence the manufacturer failed to timely update a warning in light of new data or simply ignored the risk and failed to conduct sufficient research to identify and then disclose the risk.
The product fails to conform to a representation or warranty. Warranty claims are more common in commercial and economic loss cases than in personal injury cases. In many States, The Product Liability Act does not apply to cases with only economic loss, because the Commercial Code provides recourse for breach of warranty.
The warranty may be written or implied based upon the products intended purpose and merchantability.
The following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the risks associated with the design of a space heater: (1) the magnitude of the risk of injury; (2) ordinary consumer awareness of the risk for injury; (3) the likelihood of causing injury; (4) the violation of a private or public standard; and (5) the consumer’s expectation of the performance of the product and level of danger. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (B) Product Defective in Design or Formulation.
Benefits: The following factors are considered under Ohio law when determining the benefits associated with product design: (1) the utility of the product; (2) availability of an alternative design; (3) the magnitude of risks associated with an alternative design. Ohio Revised Code 2307.5 (c)
A manufacturing defect is based on a defect that occurred during the manufacturing process. Many space heater companies have been involved in these kind of product liability lawsuits in recent years.
Most manufacturing defect cases are based on a products deviation from the intended specification, formula, performance standards, or design model. In such cases, it may be easy to determine the product did not comply with the intended design.
The patio heater may be recalled as a specific lot is identified as being non-compliant and defective. A product may be defective in manufacture or construction, materials and assembly, and a manufacturer or distributor may be subject to strict liability, even though it exercised all possible care. Ohio Revised Code 2307.74.
In determining whether a home heater is defective due to inadequate warning or instruction, evidence must be presented to prove:
The Lyon Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult hoe fire and burn injury cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered.
Experience: Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Product Liability Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters. Product Liability lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury. Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.
Defective products on the market present safety and health hazards for adults and children. Cheap and defective products may pose fire and burn risks; electrocution, strangulation and choking risks; and severe health risks. The manufacturers of consumer products have a duty to foresee potential injury and properly design and test products before they are released.
Companies must also properly warn consumers of any risks associated with their products. Any failure to protect consumers that results in accidents and injury can lead to lawsuits filed by plaintiffs and their product liability lawyer
The Lyon Firm aggressively, professionally, and passionately advocates for injured individuals and families against companies due to a defective product or recalled product to obtain just compensation under the law.
(Pikeville, Kentucky): Confidential settlement for Plaintiff who suffered spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia due to defectively designed seat belt. Four passengers with three-point (lap/shoulder) belts walked away from the accident, and the only passenger wearing a two-point belt (lap only) suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury. The settlement assisted with home improvements to assist in daily living. GM entered federal bankruptcy during the process and no longer manufactures two-point lap belts for vehicles.
(Hillsboro, Ohio): Confidential Settlement for the family of elderly man who was catastrophically burned while operating a propane wall heater. The burns resulted in his unfortunate death. The heater, manufactured and sourced from China, was alleged to allow the flame to reach outside the grid area in violation of ANSI standards. The Defendant resolved the case following discovery and mediation. The recovered funds were paid to the victim’s surviving spouse and children. The company no longer manufactures this type of heater.