Liability Risks and Injuries from Defective Space Heaters


Portable space heaters are the second leading cause of home fires, after cooking. This is largely due to the thousands of electric heater malfunctions from product defects that occur in the United States each year.

Low-income households are more likely to use space heaters as their primary form of heating.

An estimated 3 million low-income households use space heaters as their main source of heat, while 4 million low-income households use them as a secondary source of heat.

Every year during the winter months, the number of home fires related to various forms of defective heating increases. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), heating is the second leading cause of home fires and injuries in the United States.

Many people use space heaters to keep warm. Unfortunately, defective space heaters can ignite, as happened last January in New York City, where 17 people, including eight children, died.

It is important to be aware of the dangers of malfunctions on portable heaters and to take steps to prevent such accidents from happening. If you use a space heater, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Make sure there is plenty of clearance around the heater and never leave it unattended.

Almost 90% of heating fire deaths involve defective portable or stationary heaters. The main contributing factor to home heating fire deaths is the proximity of heating equipment to things that can ignite, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding.

Product liability law examines the causes of a defective product to determine who is liable and, once the responsible party is identified, helps the victim receive compensation for their injuries. Both individual and class action lawsuits use the courts to help protect consumers when an item does not perform as it should.

In light of these dangers, it is important to be aware of some basic safety tips when using any type of heating equipment:

  • Keep combustible materials at least three feet away from heaters
  • Make sure your heater has an automatic shut-off mechanism in case it starts to overheat
  • Never leave a heater running unattended
  • Read and follow all manufacturer instructions carefully

It’s important for families to be aware of the dangers associated with defective home heaters so they can take extra precautions during the winter weather. Parts that can catch on fire are particularly worrisome, as well as design and manufacturing defects that injure thousands of people each year.

Defective designs are usually present until the planning phase of the item and are caused by a defect in the design of the product for its intended use. This type of defect occurs when the product design is excessively dangerous and normally affects every unit of the product produced. This often requires a recall of the entire product line.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective space heater, it is important to speak with an attorney who understands product liability law. A product liability lawyer can help you understand your rights and what you may be entitled to receive in damages.

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