Firefighters were on the scene within minutes, but the smoke and heat were too much for them to locate the decedent. Within minutes of the fire department’s arrival, the basement apartment “flashed over” and almost everything in the room caught fire. Ultimately, the firefighters were able to control the blaze and when they made entry into the apartment they found the decedent in the bathroom. It was later determined that he had died of carbon monoxide poisoning. The fire investigators from Sandy Springs as well as those hired by the insurance company were unable to determine the cause of the fire. The usual suspects such as the furnace, can lights, wiring, etc. were ruled out, and the official cause of the fire remained undetermined.
The housing codes require every “sleeping area” to have a primary and secondary means of egress. This is not only to allow the occupants of the room to escape, but also to allow rescue personnel access in the event of an emergency. The sleeping area in the basement apartment did not have a primary means of egress, so Attorney Henningsen and the firm’s legal team focused liability on this code violation. After further research, Attorney Henningsen also determined that there was a furnace closet in the basement apartment and that too was a code violation that allowed the fire to spread more rapidly.
With two separate code violations, Attorney Henningsen pursued compensation on behalf of the decedent’s wife. The defense fought every aspect of the case and argued that there was no code violation because it could not be established that the decedent was in the sleeping area when the fire started, because he was ultimately found in the bathroom. The defense also argued that there was no way that the decedent could have survived the fire even if there was a code violation. A fire expert was brought in on the behalf of the defense to testify that the way in which the fire spread prevented the survival of the decedent regardless of any code violations.
Attorney Henningsen refuted these contentions by bringing in a code expert and a fire safety expert who determined that the proximate cause of death in the fire was the code violations. Once this was determined and proven in court, the defense continued to argue that the value of the claim should be lowered because of the decedent’s health and advanced age. Attorney Henningsen brought in a psychologist who refuted these assertions about the decedent’s mental condition, and also consulted the coroner about the cause of death. It was also determined that the decedent lived for approximately 15 minute before he succumbed to the carbon monoxide. With all of these facts established, both parties attended mediation at the end of last year but were unsuccessful at first. After several weeks, however, the mediator was able to bridge the gap of communication and the case was finally resolved. Henningsen Injury Attorneys, P.C. handles challenging personal injury and wrongful death cases like this on a regular basis, and Atlanta personal injury Lawyer Todd Henningsen has resolved hundreds of cases during his years in practice. Learn more about Henningsen Injury Attorneys, P.C. by visiting their website at http://www.atlantapiattorney.com.