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Hot Water Heater Burns and Personal Injury Lawsuits

Hot water heaters go bad. It’s a fact of life for homeowners. But hot water heaters can also go wrong. A unit can easily be set to heat water to a dangerously hot temperature, or it can suffer a mechanical failure that causes excessive heat to build up. In either scenario, people in the home can suffer serious burn injuries. In cases where a burn victim faces significant medical costs or endures other consequences, such as scarring or lost work time, a lawsuit may be called for to recover compensation. People who grew up in the 1980s probably remember these public safety announcements featuring Tweety Bird.  Tweety’s point, that hot water can burn in less than three seconds, applies not just to small children but also to older adults. Children and the elderly both have relatively thin skin that is especially prone to burns. Burn injuries can be extremely painful, slow to heal, and may lead to significant health complications, especially if they cover a significant area of the body. In examining the merits of a lawsuit, it is important to understand the facts of the specific burn injury and the water heater that caused it. There are several potential defendants in these cases:
  • The homeowner and the homeowner’s insurance carrier. If a visitor to a home is serious burned by hot water, it may be appropriate to file suit against the homeowner and the homeowner’s liability insurance policy. In such cases the insurer may honor a claim without the need for a lawsuit, but an insurer may reject a claim if its policy disclaims responsibility for unsafe water temperatures.
  • The installer. If burns are caused by a newly installed water heater that was set up with temperatures set dangerously high, the contractor who did the installation may been negligent and therefore was at fault.
  • The manufacturer and seller of the water heater. In some cases, a water heater malfunctions, causing it to heat water well beyond what its thermostat settings indicate. In such cases a products liability case may be warranted. A plaintiff who brings a Nevada products liability claim must prove that the water heater had a defect that made it unreasonably dangerous. For the plaintiff, this may require working with an expert witness who can examine the water heater and determine the specific source of the problem.
Every personal injury is unique. Determining which strategy is the right one for your case is best done with the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and products liability cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.