Serious Apartment Fire in Las Vegas Affects Multiple Families

A fire in a Las Vegas apartment building left half a dozen dead and more than twice as many injured in December in 2020, according to a CNN news report. The fire broke out just after 4 a.m. at the Alpine Motel Apartments, a 42-unit wood-framed building near Las Vegas Boulevard North. According to witnesses, by the time local firefighters arrived at the scene of the fire, people were jumping out of the building’s windows trying to escape the flames. 

The Incident

Firefighters discovered the flames accidentally began in one apartment, around a stove. Initial reports suggest that the building’s fire alarms and other safety measures were not working properly. Apartment residents reported to investigators that the building did not have heat. Las Vegas Fire spokesman noted it was likely some residents were using their stoves to keep warm. As a result, about 50 of the building’s residents are homeless. Firefighters discovered three bodies within the apartment building, one on the sidewalk, and two others at an unspecified location. Officials report that this is the worst fatal fire in Las Vegas history. Of the 13 individuals who were injured, 10 were taken to a local hospital for treatment; pets were not immune from the flames either, as two cats and one dog died in the fire. The monetary damage caused by the incident has been estimated at $475,000.

Legal Principles

Just like car accidents and wrongful death claims, fire cases require experts who can understand the origins of combustion, electrical engineering, and fire resources. Oftentimes, the scene of the incident is unavailable for investigation as the flames have destroyed the property. Under Nevada law, fire cases are often litigated under the doctrine of negligence with wrongful death and recklessness claims under NRS41.085.

Negligence Per Se 

When a law, city ordinance, or rule is violated, a plaintiff may argue that this violation was negligence per se. Violation of a law, city ordinance, or rule is excusable or justifiable only if it is determined that the defendant did what would be reasonably expected of a person of ordinary prudence acting under similar circumstances who wanted to comply with the law according to Nevada law.

Res Ipsa Loquitur

There is a presumption of negligence only occurs after the plaintiff has proven that the event that happened does not ordinarily happen unless negligence exists. This doctrine of negligence, however, cannot be used in fire cases because oftentimes other factors are to blame for the incineration other than the landlord or property owner’s negligence. 

Building fires are dangerous and often result in injuries and  fatalities. Under the state of Nevada’s rescue doctrine, those who rescue, help, or assist victims of a fire or other emergency may also recover monetary compensation for injuries suffered. 

We Can Help

The Nevada personal injury attorneys at H&P Law understand Nevada law and how to build a case. Our team will investigate the incident thoroughly and work hard to obtain the best result possible. Contact our Las Vegas or Hendersen office to speak with one of our courtroom proven lawyers today.

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