If my house caught fire when my wife used our self cleaning oven, can we sue the manufacturer?

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If my house caught fire when my wife used our self cleaning oven, can we sue the manufacturer?

We are staying in a hotel for the next 3 to 6 months. We are out of our community and do not have our pets.

Asked on April 13, 2012 under General Practice, North Carolina

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This area of law is products liability.  You can sue the manufacturer of the oven for negligence and strict liability.  Negligence and strict liability are separate causes of action (claims) in your lawsuit.

Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable manufacturer would have exercised to produce a product that is not defective).

Strict liability is liability imposed whether or not due care was exercised.

If you purchased the oven, the store where you purchased it is also liable for negligence and strict liability even if the store could not have known the oven was defective.  The store is still liable even if you weren't the original purchaser of the oven.

Your damages (the amount of compensation you are seeking in your lawsuit) would be the cost of repairs to your home.  Your damages should also include the cost of the hotel and the cost of the kennel where your pets are staying.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting a hotel, kennel, etc. whose costs are reasonable.  For example, if you are staying in the presidential suite of a five star hotel, you have failed to mitigate damages and your damages will be reduced accordingly.

Prior to filing your lawsuit for negligence and strict liability, it may be possible to settle the case with the insurance carrier for the manufacturer (and if applicable the insurance carrier for the store where the oven was purchased).  If the case is settled with both insurance carriers, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is settled with one, but not both parties (manufacturer and store), only name the party with whom the case has not settled as a defendant in your lawsuit.  If the case is NOT settled with both the manufacturer and store, both are named as defendants in your lawsuit.  If the case is NOT settled, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence and strict liability prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.


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