Who is Liable if a Smoke Alarm Didn’t Work? Smoke Alarm Statistics

Smoke and fire alarms are likely the leading factor in saving lives when a fire occurs. According to statistics, approximately two-thirds of deaths from fires in homes occurred in properties where there were no working smoke alarms.[1]

Why don’t smoke alarms work?

In the majority of fires in which smoke alarms didn’t work, such failure was due to missing, dead, or disconnected batteries or wires.  Further, one study found that about one-fifth of all households had no working smoke alarms.[2]

Who is Liable if a Smoke Alarm or Fire Alarm Didn’t Work?

Tragically, even when smoke alarms are used properly, they may not always work.  In these cases, the failure of a smoke alarm can be the difference between a family escaping from a fire with little or no injury and serious injury or death.

When smoke alarms do not work correctly, the following may be liable:

  • Landlords and owners of apartments, townhomes, and houses which are rented or leased.  These people and companies should be checking smoke alarms on a periodic basis to ensure that smoke alarms are properly working.   Even if they do engage in periodic inspections of smoke alarms, they can still be liable in the event that a smoke alarm does not work properly.
  • Maintenance and operating companies.  Many rental property owners contract with other individuals and companies to properly maintain rental property.  These people and companies may also be liable if a smoke detector does not work.
  • Manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and resellers of defective smoke alarms.  Any company in the sale or distribution of a defective smoke detector may be liable for the damages that result.  In the case of a defective smoke alarm, it will be up to a jury to determine proportionate liability.

When Smoke Alarms Fail to Function Properly, We Want to Find Out Why

We have relationships with experienced accident reconstructionists, engineers, and fire experts so that we can determine why a smoke detector failed to work properly.  Once we determine the parties who we believe bear legal liability, we typically initiate legal action against all such parties for their share of liability.

To learn more about how we represent clients in personal injury cases, please call our office to schedule a free consultation.


16020 Swingley Ridge Rd., Suite 340
St. Louis, MO 63017

Contact Us 888.586.7041

Submission of information to us through this contact form does not create an attorney-client relationship, so please do not submit any confidential information. If we are to serve as your attorneys, all fees and the nature of our representation will be set forth in a written agreement.

Close FormPrintable Map & Info